Monday, 30 May 2011

Important Note on Design Process

One thing that's important to note is that the best solution or the solution that offers the most advantages is not always the product that users will accept.  Sometimes products can be the most hi-tech and the choice with the most benefits for the user, but if the user doesn't like the design and doesn't want to use it, none of that matters.  This has been a fundamental theory in our designs for the information technology device that we're designing for nurses.  We've had some great ideas, as you can see in the posts to date, but what you can also see is that some of these ideas have been rejected in favour of simpler, more familiar designs.  We definitely don't want to overwhelm nurses with fancy e-textile writing uniforms that they don't even know how to use, for example, and we've definitely taken a lot of things along these lines into consideration.

Looking Deeper into the Product Service System

Since we've been spending a lot of time lately on the physical design and user interface of the product, we've gotten back to the topic of the actual product service system again.  Below are some screen-shots of details on our nursing service system after we used the software system MEPSS online.  These are technical diagrams of what our product service system's qualities are.

Early Looks of a "Nurse's Aide"

These are same early visions of what the "Nurse's Aide" might look like.  Better renders and final designs will come within the week, but these will hopefully help give you a better sense of something we're aiming for.  These designs, while fitting what we're trying to accomplish, are a bit large and we'll try to slim them down so that they don't interfere with daily nursing duties.

Designing the User Interface of Our "Nurse's Aide"

Just as important as the physical design of the product is how the nurses will use it.  So, my group mates and I have done some research into layouts of user interface systems and we've begun designing the possible user interface that would accompany the wrist device.  Follow the images from top to bottom to follow the progression of use:

The main screen where you log in, power off, etc.

After logging in, you can access patient files or access the EMR (Electronic Medical Record) wirelessly via the main nursing station's computers.

Clicking on "My Patients" will take you to a screen like this.

Within a patient's folder, you can view their general information, doctor in charge, medical history, allergies, prescriptions, and relatives or next of kin.

From within a patient's folder, you can create new documents, add notes and edit existing documents, and save your document once finished.
From the screen shown above, you can choose to edit a file and add new notes and patient observations.
Finally, the user interface also allows you to access the EMR's main system so that you can upload and download patient files wirelessly.  The idea is that, once a file is in the system, the server allows for multiple users to view the same files simultaneously through the EMR if need be.

Visualising Our Designs: SolidWorks Models

To complement our rough mock-ups and process models, Marco Tallarida, Brett Rushbrook, and I have also begun making 3-D CAD models in SolidWorks.  Below you can see some of the designs we've come up with so far, with the latest designs toward the top and earlier ones toward the bottom.  Now we're working on finalising our design and choosing which one to prototype for real.

Heaps of Process Models

The next step in our project was to create some rough prototypes and process models, based off of all of our research.  We narrowed our scope down to just mobile devices that assist nurses with information technology and communication, since this will target the issues of paper being EVERYWHERE, cluttering the nurse's station, as well as nurses having to duplicate observation notes by hand, search for missing patient files that have "walked away" thanks to another nurse or doctor, and etc.  These mobile devices are intended to be able to connect to the main EMR (Electronic Medical Record) via the computer at the main nursing station, and nurses can use the device (in whatever form it takes) to write notes, upload and download files from the EMR system, and, perhaps most importantly, use the same patient file that another nurse (or multiple nurses and doctors) are using simultaneously.

When designing these rough mock-ups, we explored options that are comfortable to hold, clip on to your shirt, shirt pocket, or belt, or wrap around your wrist.  One of the most important topics in this design phase was to ensure that the device would not be obstructive to the nurse during his/her normal duties, as of course we don't want a bulky wrist device, for example, making it difficult for a nurse to do some necessary task for a patient.

Here are the models we mocked up for testing and user interaction studies:

System Maps for Hospital Product Service Systems

As part of our project's brief, we designed some system maps that represent the current systems in place in hospitals.  From everything we've learned about the systems in place so far, we generated both an external view of a hospital (with the hospital as the centre link between all persons involved) and an internal view (with nurses as the centre link between all persons involved).

The top picture is external, and the bottom picture is internal, but it is important to note that they are both part of the same overall system and affect each other.

Making a Guide to All the Hospital Issues We've Encountered First-Hand

After our interviews, research, and creation of personas, my group mates and I decided to create a helpful layout of many of the problems we saw first-hand while visiting hospitals.  The diagrams below pretty much sum it a lot of it up, from Randwick's Prince of Wales public hospital:

Personas: Trying to Understand All the People Involved in Our Product Service System

As we got further along with our research for this project, we decided we needed to try to better understand patients, nurses, and doctors within this hospital setting by producing some generalised personas for each.  See our personas in chart form below:

Mind Maps: Hospital Product Service Systems

Below are some mind maps that my group mates and I did for this hospital product service systems project.  You can see our lines of thinking and how we approached potential issues in hospitals from the ground up, tracing a patient's experience from start to finish in a hospital, as well as charting out all the most important issues in hospitals and the real roots of these problems.


A Great Interview With A Nurse

To supplement our research in journals and articles and online sources, Marco Tallarida, Brett Rushbrook, and I actually went to some hospitals in the Sydney area and did some interviews.  We talked to some really friendly nurses (respecting of course that they were on duty and had jobs to do) and they shared some really helpful information with us about how things currently run in a hospital and how they feel about the status quo.

Below is one of the interviews that we conducted, with Mrs. Anna Kunz (head nurse on duty) at Randwick's Prince of Wales public hospital:

Heaps of Research for Hospital Product Service Systems

My group mates and I have done extensive research over the past few weeks into current service systems in hospitals, current products used in hospitals, and everything in-between.  At the bottom of this post you'll find a list of most of the sources we've looked at for information, many of them being great journal articles and reviews.  I recommend that you read them if you've got the time.

Things we discovered from research include that ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is today becoming more and more recognised amongst hospital staff as a real problem, and it stems from lack of oral hygiene for patients during their stay.  A patient recovering in a hospital bed who doesn't brush his teeth for several days or weeks, for example (usually because they are heavily medicated and nurses aren't trained to emphasise oral care as an issue) can lead to respiratory infections and worse.  Simply put, bad oral hygiene is the gateway to a slew of other problems in the human body, and is even linked to heart disease by some studies.  We've found estimates that VAP can cost a hospital $40,000 more per patient because of resultant problems, something that can be avoided simply by motivating nurses to care more about patient dental care and put effort towards it.  Check out this source of information for the bigger picture:
As a result of this research, we tried to design some good products that could motivate nurses to keep a dental cleaning schedule and actually care about oral hygiene of recovering patients, but there wasn't really an opportunity for a product service system, there, so we looked at other options.

Also included in our research is a variety of places with room for improvement not just in hospitals but in many other parts of society, such as airlines with air plane food systems, the top food sanitation problems in restaurants, and grocery stores that have to keep food cold at regulated temperatures.

It's neat to look at how far we've come (the first of our research is toward the bottom and the latest is toward the top).  We started looking at things like Japanese robot assistants in grocery stores and "HoverRound" and "Scooter Store" product service systems relating to adult day care, and since then we've come all the way to designing mobile information systems for nurses in hospitals.

Check out the "Visual Diary" post that was posted right before this one, and you can see how the visual diary sketches correlate to the research links here.


Visual Diary Pages for Product Service Systems

As you can see in the pages from my visual diary below (organised in order of creation, with newest towards the top and oldest toward the bottom), my group mates and I explored many different possibilities for a product service system.  We found that we were most interested in exploring issues in a hospital setting, so we explored all the issues that we could think of after doing lots of research and visiting some hospitals and interviewing nurses.

Some of the ideas we came up with ranged from simple solutions, such as ways to reinforce proper disposal of coffee cups, to absurd solutions, such as e-textile fabrics in uniforms (making the nurse's uniform into a note-taking and file-sharing device).