Advisory Board MedTracker

MedTracker is a mobile interface for part of a system we designed to help nurses track medicine information and schedules for patients, making it easier for them to balance multiple patients at a time and provide an easier transition between shifts.

Time 5 days
Team Isha Bagha | Cecilia Gutknecht | Xiao Liang
Project Brief Advisory Board

Problem Statement

How do we cut back on the complexity of current methods in hospitals for tracking patients, medicine, dosage schedules, and delivery to make taking care of patients easier for nurses?

Target GroupNurses
Stakeholders Doctors, Staff, Hospitals, Patients, Patient Family Members

Problem Space

Different hospitals use different methods for tracking and handling medicine, from pen and paper to complex systems. Larger hospitals are more likely to have integrated technological systems into their flow.

We worked with a nurse and were able to outline a common series of steps based on what she was currently using.

Findings

From our interviews, we were able to discern several core emotional and usability pain points.

Although nurses have access to data and information on their (shared) computers, they still record and carry key information with them, such as patient medications and administration schedules.

Nurses that have been working longer are less trusting and more uncomfortable with newer technologies, and have trouble adapting to them.

Nurses are more open to learning new technologies or methods when they see the day-to-day benefits relating to their jobs and caring for patients.

Although nurses have access to data and information on their (shared) computers, they still record and carry key information with them, such as patient medications and administration schedules.

Nurses that have been working longer are less trusting and more uncomfortable with newer technologies, and have trouble adapting to them.

Nurses are more open to learning new technologies or methods when they see the day-to-day benefits relating to their jobs and caring for patients.

Insights

Our research led us to two different insights regarding what can block new or complex technologies from being used.

Cognitive Barriers 

The nurses need an interface they can understand. The more familiar an interaction is, the easier it will be for them to adjust to the new technology. Bogging it down with clutter and unnecessary steps only frustrates and slows them down, and detracts from the time they should be spending with a patient.

Attitudinal Barriers 

It needs to be clear how and why the technology is being used and how it is helping; if they don’t see the purpose or it takes too much time for them to use, it creates resistance in learning how to use it.

“Right now the system is too detailed, we feel like we’re on the computer more than with the patient.”

We constrained down to addressing these two barriers, with the goal of creating a system that is visually clean, with a low threshold for learning for easy usability, and fits into their daily routine rather than disrupting it.

Nurses already have stations with computers available, and some have computers on stands for roaming around the hospital. We decided to focus on a mobile interface for the part of the system we designed, so that it could supplement current methods without replacing or disrupting them. Utilizing tablets would reflect the clipboards and writing pads traditionally used, for easy movement between patients and a familiar process

“Simplified programs are more welcomed… the more [time] we spend on a computer, the less we spend with the patient.”

Medicine Tracking System

MedTracker Main Screen

The main screen displays the patient's medicines organized by time, with the next dose at the top. Nurses can click to see the medicine details.

Warnings

When a nurse or doctor assigns new medicines to a patient, the system will create an alert if there are drug interactions between any of the medicines in the roster.

Scanning

The system is designed to use scanners already in use in hospitals for medicine. When a nurse scans the medicine, it logs it into the system. After the nurse is done administering the medicine, the batch of scanned medicine can be processed together and cycle back into the schedule with new times.

Reflection

This was our second rapid design project, so shifting into the proper mentality was a challenge. In the past, I was so used to having weeks or a month to clean up designs, step back, and iterate. I was not used to having to make quick judgments, and was still second guessing a lot of the choices I was making.

Parallel Tasks, Pacing, and Prioritization

Before, I had the luxury of taking my time, finishing up a project or different parts of the design, and then wrapping up or creating documentation at the end. My process was very 1:1, where I'd only focus on one goal at a time. I had to learn how to work on multiple parts in parallel, and to balance the progress between all the moving pieces. It was new, and definitely a little overwhelming at first, but by the end of the week I surprised myself by what we were able to do in 4.5 days. Of course there were bursts of activity, and we had to push ourselves to wrap everything up - we hadn't yet figured out how to pace ourselves - but once I got past the initial anxiety, it was a surprisingly smooth process. This was the beginning of figuring out how to be more fluid in a design space, and to work on how I prioritized and tackled multiple aspects of a project at once.

Patience and Constraints

If a normal project is a marathon, this is a sprint. There was a lot of anxiety going into it ("What if I mess up? What if we make a wrong choice? What if we don't finish in time?"), but focusing on that wasn't helpful. I had to work on just taking a deep breath and focusing on what had to be done. Yes, we might fail, or we might make something interesting but not address what was expecting... but we had a job to do, and sitting around worrying about the project wasn't conducive to a positive design space. This project, despite being fast, taught me to be patient, and to work with the time and limited resources that we had.

Leaving Room

When we had more time in previous classes, our groups tended to cut the project into different sections and work on the different deliverables. With this, we were all hands on, and it was disconcerting. Feedback was immediate, everyone was making changes to all the parts, we were working in sync but in a very high intensity space. I was so used to having some distance and space to work with, so had to learn to step back and a) adjust to being a full, integrated team rather than just a project group, and b) to leave room for other designers, and not get protective of my work. Because it wasn't my design, it was ours. That final Friday was mentally exhausting trying to beat the deadline, but we left glowing because we had all settled into a communal design space and had gotten into such a good flow working together we actually forgot to stop and eat lunch. It was a new experience for me, but made me more self aware, and that I need to be conscious to not keep my barriers up.

Overall

It wasn't the best project I've ever done, but it was my first time realizing I can adjust to the circumstances and that I'm not beholden to what I've gone through or previous patterns in a design space. I was taking theory class at the same time, and between the two I came to the realization that I had the skills, I had the methods, I knew what I was capable of, and that a design space is never the same so I shouldn't enter each one the same. This is where I realized I needed to trust my judgment as a designer, and to rely more on my team.

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