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Healthcare Tech Design: Invisible, Intuitive, and User-Centered

There’s a tongue-in-cheek saying in design and software firms that goes, “User Experience is like a Joke — if you have to explain it, it’s not very good.” Today’s tech users are spoiled beyond belief and now expect that all the technology we use will be generally intuitive and doesn’t require hours nose-deep in an instruction manual. The how-to guide for iphone operation clocks in at under 100 words; instead, it’s a few minimalist illustrations.

Medical and healthcare technology should be the same way, although such is not always the case. A 2009 study reviewed the effect of more technology in hospitals and research centers. While computers made information clearer and more easily accessible, many hospital staff reported that the technology was cumbersome and hard to work. Some respondents noted that the technology actually detracted from their ability to perform their jobs because they spent more of their time fiddling with the program than interacting with their patients. For healthcare technology and software to work, they absolutely have to put the user first.

As I discussed in my blog about engaging implementations presentations, a huge part of rolling out medical technology or software is making sure users know that everything was assembled and designed with them in mind. If the steps seems too cumbersome or non-intuitive, they won’t “buy into” the new tech at hand. Harvard Business Review recently wrote about this exact issue specifically regarding Artificial Intelligence. It’s hard to get users to buy into a new technology, especially when it’s a whole new thing, not just a better version of what they’re used to. In order for users to trust new technology, they need to believe that it was designed for them and will in fact make their lives better.

It’s so important that healthcare technology improves in design that the US recently offered a six million dollar grant to a team that could assemble a device that people can use to diagnose themselves in their own homes with either a small spit or blood sample. USA Today anticipates that healthcare tech firms will be in the highest paying jobs report within the next three years easily.
As medtech, biotech, and healthcare software continue to develop, the design has to be familiar, intuitive, and helpful. When users feel like the technology was built with them in mind, they’ll trust it more and adopt it more easily.