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6 key strategies in designing, implementing HIT systems
Healthcare information technologies are a routine component of patient and physician interactions, the American Medical Informatics Association notes. Originally designed for billing and regulatory compliance, these systems can bring unintended consequences such as increased documentation in the exam room, which may distract a clinician’s attention during a visit. With the widespread implementation of technology, the health industry must ensure the focus remains on clinical operations and the patient-clinician relationship.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association lists six habits of highly successful health information technology, noting what researchers call powerful strategies for design and implementation.
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Put patient care first
HIT must enhance patient care by making it safe, effective and patient-centered. Consider solutions for shared clinician-patient HIT, such as enabling the clinician to focus on the patient rather than other tasks, like documentation.
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Assemble a team with the right skills
Bring together a team diverse in expertise. This should include project managers, visual and interaction designers, human factors and industrial engineering experts, software engineers, content experts, writer/information architects, clinicians, patients and key organization stakeholders.
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Relentlessly ask ‘Why’
Defining needs and solutions calls for an interactive and inquisitive approach. Ask colleagues, “Why is it done this way and could it be better?” This involves research, such as conducting needs analysis, task analysis and interviews to understand current care processes, use patterns, workarounds and cultural norms.
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Keep it simple
Leverage the science of human factors to support good design. Consider user abilities and limitations for visual perception, working memory and motor skills. Consider the additive effect of each new system component on user cognitive load. Look to other industries, such as aviation and nuclear power, for insight into designing for user performance. Also look to industry standards to support interoperability.
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Be Darwinian
Continue iterative improvements throughout the HIT lifecycle. Test and retain only the best features at every stage. Formative evaluation should guide design iterations. Test for usability once design is stable. Consider target and novel outcomes of user behavior, patient care and clinician wellness such as life after work. Continue to evaluate as needs and technology change.
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Don’t lose the forest for the trees
Putting patient care first requires safe design. Introduction of new HIT in an existing socio-technological system changes the system. Assess for unintended consequences and safety threats. Be aware that changes may occur not only on the user level but also in interactions with others across the system, such as changes in information and shared work processes.
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For more information
Information on the article from the Journal of AMIA can be accessed here.