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How our Helper Philosophy guided the creation of Sunrise Compass

Useable EHRs aren’t always helpful. To improve the clinician experience, EHRs need to do more for their users. At Allscripts, we are using a Helper Philosophy in our design process, which means we are looking beyond usability to make our electronic health records (EHR) helpful, too.

Sunrise™ Compass is a guide, enabling users to quickly orientate to what tasks need to be done now, and what needs to be done later in the context of what they are doing currently. Providers can be more efficient and work with more confidence without relying on memory. Compass is there when you need it giving you the right information at the right time, and providing only what is necessary.

But it wasn’t always this way. Previously, the solution had many tools in many locations, giving users too many options and forcing them to poke around the application to find out what they needed to do for all of their patients. And the places they went to in the UI did not think of tasks in a consistent way, they were called different things, appeared in different ways, and often tied to a feature or module.

The Allscripts User Experience (UX) team analyzed this situation from many viewpoints and evaluated big-picture questions such as:

  • How do users do their work?
  • What do users expect?
  • How is the current solution supporting those needs?
  • What decisions can simplify things in the user interface?
  • What would be the most helpful to the user?

By focusing on the big picture, a few clear action steps emerged:

1) Support users’ idea of what tasks are

Messages that travel through the application are always tasks. We removed technical or artificial boxes that these messages were put into, such as having an “email module” and then having “tasks” or “messages” for other items.

2) Bring the tasks to the user

These tasks have a priority. We consolidated all messages into one area, sorted by priority, and gave users the ability to filter the list. Also, information associated with a task is presented in-line with the message, rather than launching windows and dialogs. This provides a quick view of the tasks that let you see what needs to be done quickly with the right information to prioritize. The other is the inline ability to complete the task with all of the details available to you.  Both contribute to the right information at the right time and can help the user do their job more efficiently.

3) Support the provider work model

It is one thing to put everything in one bucket, but we also needed to support what was going in and when based on how providers do work. Providers are either working on a specific patient, or, are working their tasks for everyone between visits. There is a global module with all tasks, and, a patient-only perspective of the same information presented in the context of the open patient. Shortcuts or Filters allow a provider to work a specific group of tasks (prescriptions) or easily find the priority items across groups.

Analysis indicates that some of these functional changes have removed a week or more of “click time” – time spent clicking, moving the mouse and waiting for info – every year. Providers can spend this time doing other things.

Less time fumbling with tools, more time with patients. Each time we get this right, it is a step toward restoring provider wellness.

Editor’s note: Read more about how Allscripts is working with clients to address provider wellness in a recent Healthcare Informatics article: At University Hospitals in Cleveland, MD and IT Leaders are Making Strides to Reduce Provider Burnout

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