When I’m at work, I sometimes think about having the perfect healthcare dashboard. I use EPIC at work, and for the most part it’s adequate. But the dashboard that I see each day when I open EPIC is not useful to me at all. I’m not able to easily customize it, and so I just click through to where I need to go. From a UX perspective, it’s a complete waste of space.
There’s also a “summary” page for each patient. A sort of patient dashboard. This is maybe 20% useful, but again, I can’t really customize it. I’d like to be able to see very clearly, the patient’s latest vital signs, a medication summary, and a summary of the most recent assessment. There is also an “FYI” sidebar but it’s hit or miss as to whether it will contain anything useful to me.
On the other hand, Epic has something called a “brain,” which I find very useful. You can use it to create a nice display of all your patient tasks for the shift, with the most important task being medication administration. I find this very helpful for getting a broad overview of what my shift is going to look like, and how I need to proceed with time management. It’s funny, though, I have rarely seen another nurse utilize this. Most nurses either have been doing it for so long, they can keep it inside their head, or else they make a little checklist on their report sheet. The one time I did see a nurse use it, she was a transplant from the ICU. So maybe hospital nurses use it a lot more than hospice nurses.
What features would my dream healthcare dashboard have?
It would pull in multiple data sources, possibly from outside hospitals (a huge ask in health care, I know!)
It would update in real time, and display these updates in a timeline.
It would be easily customizable by the clinician.
It would have a great UX – a design that people want to interact with it.
Let’s look at a use case.
I’m told I’m getting an admission. It’s a patient from our home care service, and he’s coming from the hospital. He was having a pain crisis, and could not wait for the triage nurse to come so he went to the ED. They start an IV, get him started on new pain meds. Meanwhile the triage nurse has started to coordinate transferring him to my inpatient unit. He’s on the way.
My aim is to get him as comfortable as possible, as quickly as possible. But first I have to call the on-call doc for orders (it’s 3AM). But I cannot call the doctor until I have all my ducks in a row.
These are my ducks:
- The patient’s current medications
- The hospital discharge summary (and I mean an actual summary – not a 200 page printout that the ambo driver hands me!)
- The last 2-3 notes from the triage nurse, and the home care nurse.
- If it’s a new admission, the liaison nurse note, which describes the patient’s hospice eligibility, and recent history
- Also Allergies, DNR status, and some recent vital signs.
It would be so delightful to have all of this is one place. Instead I usually end up clicking through EPIC screens to find medications, and pouring through the 200 page hospital printout to find the relevant documents. And I waste precious time that could be spent treating the patient’s pain. And when I say precious time, I do mean precious time. This is hospice, after all, and the patient’s time is usually quite limited.
Unfortunately, when it comes to implementing these types of ideas, the “nurse,” is not the “customer.” Most health care IT tools are either designed with the doctor or the patient in mind. I suspect this will change over time, as the nursing workforce becomes younger, and demands better tech. Most of my colleagues are in their 50’s and 60’s and getting them to adopt any kind of new tech is a challenge. On the other hand, the nurse that uses EPIC brain? She was in her 20’s.
I do believe that someday nurses will have a more streamlined and customizable user experience. A nurse can dream.