Behind the scenes of Practice Fusion’s EMR for iPad app
To create our new iPad interface, which just released as a beta version to active providers, Practice Fusion partnered with the award-winning design firm Cooper. Cooper is renowned for its work across the design world, from startups to over a third of the Fortune 500, with its emphasis on creating simple and enjoyable user experiences.
First of all, what exactly was your role on the iPad design?
Stefan Klocek: We are user experience designers, meaning we focus specifically on how users interact with the EMR. Instead of just designing from scratch, we first understand our user’s needs and we determine how we can fulfill those needs with the technical resources we have available.
Kramer Weydt: We’re not doctors, but we understand how people interact with devices and we learn from doctors what they need from this technology through research and interviews.
How did Cooper fit into the creation of Practice Fusion for the iPad?
SK: Practice Fusion hired Cooper to look at the current EMR and come up with a vision for how the main EMR, which has been developed for years, can be condensed into an iPad version. This took some effort, as you can imagine! We spent a great deal of time researching with potential users of the iPad and making decisions about what is most important to include.
Why is it so different from the main EMR?
SK: There are two reasons. The EMR is very complex, which means it doesn’t translate well into an iPad format with its smaller screen. And maybe more importantly, the doctor wants to engage with the patient during the clinical encounter, not the technology. By making the iPad as streamlined as possible, the doctor can focus on the patient instead of what’s happening on the screen. So we designed it specifically around the patient encounter, to make sure it works where the doctor needs it the most.
How did you work with other members of the Practice Fusion team to make this happen?
KW: We had to re-envision the EMR in such a whole new way—there’s no one on the Practice Fusion team that hasn’t been involved in that. From Account Managers getting a sense of what users want on the phones to Engineering who coded the whole thing from the ground up—everyone has seen it and played some part in it. It’s been an amazing cross-functional effort across the whole company to make it, support it and get it out into people’s hands.
What do you like about working with mobile and tablet technology?
KW: What I like in particular is the personal nature of the tablet—you hold it yourself, but you can also easily hand it off to someone else. So the technology can create a shared experience between two people—they can communicate around it, rather than being isolated by it. I think this is especially important in a medical encounter.
I also like how important touch is on the iPad—it’s much more intuitive than a mouse.
SK: That directness is great. You don’t have to move around and click with a cursor, you just touch the items directly. There’s a lot of potential good we can do, leveraging the power of such a small, portable device.
What lies ahead?
SK: Beyond the SOAP notes, templates and e-prescribing that users can expect to see on the iPad soon, the main EMR will also start to change as we build the iPad. Things we learn on the iPad will allow us to rethink things in the main EMR, and vice versa. It’s going to be an exciting process moving forward!
The article above is reprinted with permission from Practice Fusion