Adopting The Obvious , Part 1
Shortening the Gap from Awareness, Jokes, and Threats to Common Use of Emerging Technologies Link to Part 2
A decade ago, I would leave my home for work, hop in my car, turn my radio on to the news channel with traffic, and begin a morning juggling act. At eight minutes after the hour and every ten minutes thereafter, Lisa Baden, the traffic reporter would speak for 60 seconds. When Lisa began, I was supposed to give her my complete audio attention. Systematically, from worst delays to minor delays, Lisa would talk thru the up-to-the-moment, prioritized incident list. She would recommend detours, lane choices or patience. And, she would try to make it human, conversational, humorous, or compassionate. I was grateful for the help. It was so much better than driving blind.
Fast forward to 2010. Smart phones and dedicated GPS units give substantially similar information. They listen and juggle. I do not. They sort out the incidents, not in terms of severity to the broadcast area, but in terms of my location and my route. The information does not come to me in an interruptive audio stream I must decode by street names (many of which I will never travel in my entire life). It comes visually, color coded, on a map, zoomed in to my preference, be it three blocks or ten miles. It's in real time, i.e. no waiting. The GPS traffic information is ad sponsored, no added cost, just like the radio.
Information access is better and more relevant.
The GPS+traffic workflow scenario produced dramatic improvements in usability and task speed. The same pattern has emerged over the last decade with electronic communication. Phones now routinely integrate e-mail/calendar/contact systems like Exchange, Gmail and MobileMe. These phone+messaging/calendaring solutions now support dramatic improvements in usability and task speed as well. On the PC and related tablet platforms, the same kinds of usability and task speed improvements are surfacing.
Here is my point. The choice of devices determines the potential usability of a solution. The resulting supported workflows can make the old world obviously obsolete. Based on what I'm seeing and hearing in the industry, this device evolution and relationship to usability and task speed perspective is being slowly recognized, if at all, by some very important decision makers.
Bloomberg Businesweek covered an analysis by Forrester Research's Ted Schadler on emerging devices, including Smartphones, tablets and their associated wireless connectivity. There's a lot of coverage of this issue as the sales volume of tablets (including the iPad) and Smartphones simply amaze and defy forecasts. One podcast titled, "Bringing iPads to Work - Should CIOs Ban Them?" does a nice job of summarizing the situation. The presenter concluded that the rate of adoption by professions is unprecedented and a locked-down policy approach to one’s user community, previously very wise, is no longer a viable approach.
We need to look at many of our current device/usability/workflow models and fundamentally redesign them in the same ways that the GPS+traffic and phone+messaging have. For example, is it rational for physicians to have a separate system for inpatient visit charge capture from their other rounding information tools? Shouldn’t that be designed into ordering and documentation such that charge capture disappears, while still getting done behind the scene?
Shouldn’t we routinely look at processes that take a few minutes per patient and take out the extra clicks, the redundant assembly work of the documentation, orders and prescription writing? Shouldn't we replace those processes with alternatives recently made possible through ubiquitous devices, connectivity and better designed usability? I’m sure that most of us share this vision. It is, after all, pretty obvious.
I invite your comments, and will be posting Part 2 of this topic in a few days. In it, I’ll be explore emerging technologies further, and offer you my conclusions.