Human-Centred Software Design

Human-Centred Software Design – Why Does It Matter?

Human-centred design and co-design are becoming the standard terms used when designing customer focused solutions. In fact, co-design is no longer used as tech company lingo, but it’s an approach increasingly used in the public sector. Just go to any medical industry conference and it’s difficult to avoid seeing a presentation that hasn’t been derived from a co-design approach.

So why is a human-centred design approach so important? One of the key mottos at Best Practice Software is ‘designed by a doctor, for a doctor’. This is a key pillar of our organisation. The key purpose of these design concepts is to better understand the evolving needs of your customers and the new challenges that come along with it. We strive to ensure that we address the correct needs of our customers as we build our next generation product, Titanium.

Medical software is an industry that has experienced rapid technological advancement. This transformation is only going to accelerate as we not only adopt cloud-based technology but all the latest advancements that come along with it such as mobile applications, shared health records, e-prescriptions, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and virtual health care services.

Speaking to Our Customers

In software development it is easy to become too feature focused instead of stopping for a moment to re-evaluate the problems we want to solve. Customers have always been at the heart of what we do at Best Practice Software and it has always been important to us to take our user-centered approach to another level with the development of our next generation of products, code-named “Titanium”. So, we decided to go out, speak to customers and listen to what they had to say about the challenges, problems and pain points that they face day-in and day-out in their practices.

We invited customers to a roadshow called “Connect and Evolve” and the purpose was literally to connect with our customers and discuss the evolving needs of their practices. In these sessions it was important to not start with designing solutions and features but to begin by listing out all daily, tasks, activities and routine work. We then started to establish problem statements and listing out time consuming tasks. After that we started to figure out ideal workflows and solutions to address these issues by putting all limitations aside in the technology that we use today.

We ended up with a tremendous amount of insight and feedback not only on the current needs of practices but also on the desired future state of working whether you are a provider, receptionist, a nurse or a practice manager. We are using this feedback in our product roadmap for Titanium and we have continued to speak to even more of our customers by showing prototypes and possible solutions to improve our day to day working life.

Understanding the Real Problems

One of the unique aspects in medical software is that users spend the entire day using the product. As a comparison, if you use marketing software, you only use it for parts of the day or in increments throughout a working day. In medical software you might not leave your screen all day, so designing a solution that understands these needs is absolutely critical.

As our industry and working environments continue to evolve rapidly, we also need to recognise and understand the changing needs and challenges that come with change. This may sound like an obvious statement but in order to drive innovation, it’s necessary to find a way to break the norm by introducing new ways of doing things. This is not an easy task when you speak to users that understandably do not want a disruption in their workflows. The last thing you want to do is force features down the throats of customers whether they like them or not. You need to give them value by delivering better usability, saving time, solving problems and ultimately helping them in improving patient care.

Applying New Technology and Prototyping

Does new technology solve old problems or does new technology create new problems? The reality is probably a bit of both. For instance, moving into cloud-based technology solves a lot of problems. It offers always-on technology available to any location you want to work out of and usually for any device you want to use it with, whether desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile. However, it also introduces a whole layer of complexity with the unknowns of having a stable internet connection, data security and using a browser instead of an application built for an operating system.

We help address these things through rapid prototyping, user testing, and agile development methodologies in our product design. We also conduct a significant amount of market research and learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others in the industry. There are usually several different solutions or approaches to address a problem. The key is figuring out which is the most appropriate or most promising option to take or technology to choose from. We then prototype, speak to users, test with users, refine the solution, do the development work and complete the feature. For instance, the architecture of Titanium has been completely built from scratch using the latest API-agnostic platform structure to improve development time, scalability, cost efficiency and enabling more third party integrations for Practices.

Gathering feedback from our customers is a job that is never done. We are continuing to ramp up our development work on Titanium with a strong focus on customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) by actively involving our Practice customers throughout the product design process. It’s a process that starts with the users and ends in a product built to address the current and future needs of our customers.

We value the input of our customers. If you have suggestions for functionality within Titanium, please share your feedback in our Forum, which can be found in the top menu bar of this website.

Authored by: 
Henry Vesander
Henry Vesander
Product Manager at Best Practice Software