Engineering a Better Healthcare Experience

In 2009, the Obama administration made healthcare reform its top priority and passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which authorized the Health and Human Service department establish programs that improve healthcare by promoting better information technologies and encourage adoption of electronic health records. Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began certifying EMR products under “meaningful use” guidelines. This paper explores the current state of usability within the healthcare industry. I begin with a brief history of human-computer interaction research, before laying out some of the unique user experience challenges that healthcare presents. I then outline a set of usability heuristics and design best practices that should be considered when building medical applications. I also look at the importance of mobile devices within clinical settings. I conclude with a holistic discussion about why the user experience of clinical IT tools is so intimately linked to the humanistic patient experience, and the overall quality of the personalized care they receive.