I stumbled upon a question on Quora, asking: Why does healthcare software typically have such a terrible UI/UX?

It really is true that we suffer from such a bad UI/UX (i.e., user experience) in healthcare. It really sounds strange, especially when we notice that we are living in an era with very wonderful UI/UX designs showing up regularly. Personally, I care about the functionality of any system I use, but I really like it to have a smooth and wonderful UI/UX. Sometimes we may just deviate from a system merely because of its bad UI/UX!

While we are starting to pay more attention to UI/UX, why isn’t that so in healthcare systems? Should such systems only be serious, strict, and “ugly”? It is really not just a matter of aesthetics – a bad design can hurt, if not kill.

We are sticking to bad designs

If we know that a bad UI/UX can be frustrating and harmful, why are we still sticking to such bad designs?!

Back to the Quora question and answers from Mark Olschesky and Ramzi Amri, the following could be some reasons:

  • People seem to get used to old and bad UI/UX, which results in keeping such systems longer.
  • People get angry when you interrupt their workflow, which implies resistance to the introduction of new UI/UX designs.
  • Resistance to change causes one to introduce changes slowly, or otherwise to retrain a team, which can be an expensive and daunting task.
  • It is surprising to know that healthcare providers are considered older and not very tech-savvy in general, and their choices of UI/UX are random.
  • Healthcare software lacks flexibility. In other words, since software may differ from hospital to hospital, department to department, and even case to case, it is very hard to find a good design that fits all.

Why UI/UX is not taken into consideration

In the previous section, we saw some reasons we are still sticking to bad designs in healthcare systems. It seems that the issue of UI/UX is still not taken into account in a wider scope by companies dealing with those systems. In medical device companies, for instance, the reason UI/UX is not emphasized is that such companies are still using approaches like the waterfall model as opposed to agile processes that go hand-in-hand with UI/UX design (i.e., usability).

What can we do about it?

The good news is that we can do something about the issue of bad design. As Damian Priday mentions, UI/UX design can be employed in healthcare software systems, and the key is designing around what both doctors and patients need. Products that will aid in making the patient process flow as smoothly as possible are what we aim for with such designs.

An example of possible solutions Damian mentions is using voice recognition to input data (such as that used in Siri) as opposed to the way medical professionals and staff record patient data, which limits the desired interaction with the patient.

Damian emphasizes that the future of healthcare systems lies in designing the experience – a satisfying time with everything from health and fitness apps to care providers will be critical in managing our health.

In conclusion

UI/UX is a very important concern that demands more attention. As Shahid Shah mentioned, good UI/UX aids in creating lower-risk and more functional products that deliver what users actually need. It also creates better usability, leading to improved health among people, and, from the commercial point of view, to more sales of such usable products.

What other reasons do you think are causing us to stick with bad UI/UX in healthcare? What suggestions would you recommend to make UI/UX stronger?


Photo credit: mollystevens / Foter / CC BY-SA


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