Designing with the Patient in Mind

The End – Week 10!

May 18th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Feedback | Implementation - (Comments Off)

I successfully defended my thesis Wednesday! I was also pleased that my committee members and two other professors were very eager to provide feedback. Some minor suggestions and things to fix, but the defense went well and I passed!

Besides the thesis show, the last part I have left is documentation, which is to do a write-up summarizing the process and how I solved my thesis problem.

I have to say, I am very happy with this project and how it turned out. I know this is rare for a grad student, but I never got sick of working on my thesis. I always looked forward to working on this project and figuring out how this might help a patient manage their health someday through design. As someone who has had a chronic illness, I know how frustrating dealing with the accumulation of papers and enormous amounts of health information is. I’m pleased with my progress and am so happy to be ending my six years at RIT with a project that I have a personal connection to and am very passionate and proud of. This was the perfect way to conclude my studies and end my college career.

Progress Week 8

February 15th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Feedback - (Comments Off)

Well, I am happy to report thesis baby has a name! Now I just need to come up with a logo. Things are coming along nicely. I’m at the point where I’m really trying to narrow down how a patient will interact with the EMR and focusing on the content that is crucial to keep track of. What are patients constantly trying to keep track of in their head and trying to remember when it comes to their health? How can I make the patient feel in control without feeling overwhelmed by all of the content? How can I make the patient feel empowered that they feel comfortable being their own advocate when it comes to their health? Throughout this process, I have thought about how I would have used this EMR during my cancer treatments. What is the most important content and information I want and need to keep track of?

It’s fascinating to look back and see how much things have changed since I started designing just the GUI. Recap:

  • - type size of content needs to be increased
  • - more than one person will be able to use this EMR – the whole family will be able to keep track of their health!
  • - a patient would have the ability to register the EMR with their address
  • - mainNav needs to be prioritized better in terms of importance of information
  • - print button should be larger
  • - I would like to add the ability to upload any type of document related to a patient’s health. If there is something about their health that is not a part of the EMR and they feel is important, then they should be able to upload documents to archive that information.

Progress Week 7

February 6th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Feedback - (Comments Off)

I received feedback from my entire thesis committee last week. I have already begun implementing some of these changes and deciding how I can incorporate a little bit of what each committee member suggested since they all had very valid points. Here’s the breakdown.

  • - White background isn’t working so well. Possibly including symbols that relate to each section of the mainNav in the background might work in a color that relates to the section the user is in. Maybe even the caduceus symbol for all sections.
  • - Consider a neutral color for the background
  • - Each section will have its own printer friendly version
  • - Might have to change the point size of the type
  • - Consider putting the information that needs to go in each box directly in the input box and when the user starts typing, the info will disappear
  • - Possibly have the mainNav slide on/off the screen
  • - User will have the ability to press “tab” to get to the next section
  • - Consider having the instructions appear/disappear in order to make more room for the content
  • - Keep visual info on demand
  • - Might be helpful to have a walkthrough of each section and how to fill in the info instead of one text box for instructions


Progress Week 6

January 29th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Feedback - (Comments Off)

Light feedback, but progress is being made. I am establishing a grid system and finding elements that need to be repeated for continuity. The suggestions in the famous list form:

  • page numbers need to be moved – the one necessity I am struggling with. Placement is tricky with pagination!
  • save button needs to be moved
  • all instructions are set in italics
  • increase size of headings
  • spacing between sections needs to be adjusted

UI screenshots are coming soon!

Progress Week 5

January 23rd, 2012 | Posted by admin in Feedback - (Comments Off)

Here is the feedback I received last week.

  • “Add Another Contact” under emergency contacts and the “Save” button need to be smaller
  • There should be a “Submit” button for each section
  • Is the rule necessary under certain headings for the content of each section? If so, color is something to think about
  • Work on typography and contrast
  • Point size in text of mainNav could be slightly larger and centered
  • Sizing of input boxes should have consistency (use smaller boxes as guide for larger boxes)
  • Consider a drop shadow or some other type of depth for the “You are here” state in the mainNav
  • Content in each section should be color coded so that it related to the color of the button in the mainNav

I also need to conduct my first usability test, which will be a quick, mini test to determine which color scheme people prefer out of the few mock-ups I designed. Of course, there is the possibility that none of them are well received, but hopefully that won’t happen!

That is plenty to keep me busy!!


Week 4 Progress

January 14th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Feedback - (Comments Off)

Things are progressing, just not at the rate I would like them to. While designing the wireframes, I’ve become aware of many things that would be helpful and problems that need to be worked out. I definitely picked a challenging design problem to solve!

This week I’m at the point where I can start designing the GUI in Photoshop. Once I’ve got the design of one page down, it will mostly be just a matter of changing content with each page because I’ll have a template done so I should be able to catch up to where I want to be at this point in the process. Here is a round-up of major changes, new additions, and other ideas:

  • I thought I had a name, but have now decided to scrap it after a quick search yielded some results with the same name in technology related software. I don’t want there to be any confusion so I am back at square one with the name game. Sigh.
  • The print-out will be one color leaving me with more freedom to work with a large a color scheme
  • Choosing a color scheme is proving to be harder than I thought. It seems I need more colors in this palette than I am used to in terms of designing for the screen.
  • Pop-ups will be utilized to save screen real estate.
  • I included pagination to reduce the amount of scrolling.
  • There will be a specific list of activity that the user will be able to showing everything they updated during their last sign-on
  • Some type of a “Why are you asking me this?/Why is this information important? link or button will be somewhere in certain sections for information that has to be filled in
  • The risk of losing information after spending quite a bit of time filling it all in is a worry I will take into account. Users will be prompted with a warning pop-up message to save their information if they forget to click the “Save” button in the bottom right corner.

I think I’m actually at one of the most difficult points with regards to the design process because the challenges from the wireframes all seem to be colliding with the start of the design of the interface in Photoshop and I’m still trying to finalize features. Just trying to keep pushing through at this point!


December 22nd, 2011 | Posted by admin in Feedback | Planning - (Comments Off)

I am in the revision stage of the wireframes and it looks like things are moving in the right direction. Next up is to do a color treatment on the wireframes and make a final decision on the color scheme. The “Medical Testing History” is the section of the EMR that is taking the longest because I want to add a few helpful features for interactivity, i.e. tracking numbers, personal normal baseline numbers, what the numbers mean, and possibly graphs.

I would also like to add a button for an “Archive” feature to archive information that is outdated. For example, if a patient is doing well and they no longer need to see a doctor that is listed under their current medical team, they would be able to archive that specific detail and have a record of past information. The layout of this archive will follow the design of the print layout and will be a list of outdated information combined in one section. To get to the archive, the patient will click on the archive button in their personal welcome panel.


October 30th, 2011 | Posted by admin in Feedback - (Comments Off)

I had a practice run of my presentation to defend my thesis proposal this week. Here is the feedback I received:


  • include an example of what a current print-out of the patient’s record looks like – need to see if I can track one down
  • center blocks of text on slides
  • text size on flow chart too small – I took a screenshot of the flowchart and put the image on the slide. Need to figure out a better way to show it
  • include poorly designed example(s) of EMR
  • stress that this is a prototype in English – there are many things to consider for building upon this project in the future such as, different languages and making sure it is ADA compliant


  • It was mentioned that writing over a CD constantly could be an issue. This would be addressed by issuing new CDs every time an update is made to the patient’s records. It sounds like this would a problem going through so many CDs, but it is actually more cost efficient than printing out pages of a record. Someone could spend a whole day printing records at about 75 cents an hour. A CD would also be more convenient if a patient is traveling because carrying a stack of papers and the risk of losing some or all of those papers could be a challenge. However, I am also considering a patient portal where patient records are housed online. The patient would have to log in and would also be able to print off any part of their records they wish.
  • I have a section of this EMR that is to keep track of family history. This would NOT pull records from a family member, rather just be an archive of what the patient knows about the health histories of family members. It is routine practice for doctors to ask if any family members have or have had chronic illnesses so that patient can then be screened carefully for diseases they are at risk for. For example, a doctor asks if both parents are still alive and if not what did they die from. If the patient says both parents had diabetes, that patient is at greater risk for developing diabetes.