Co-Creation is the Two-Way Street to Usability

June 15, 2016
We are now in the era of value-based healthcare where HCAHPS scores play a huge role in reimbursement, and consumerism is a factor that cannot be ignored. Therefore, it’s time we rethink our path to usability.

I was driving to the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT last week using my GPS map app to provide visibility on timing and traffic. As I got close, I saw new options appear with the label “Similar ETA.” As it turned out, I had a piece of information the GPS was missing. I knew that I could park for $2/hour on a nearby street. Garage parking, on the other hand, would cost $20. The GPS software and I were working to co-create my specific route. By focusing on being smartly flexible, the experience was highly usable.

As the medical director and program officer over usability at ONC in 2013 and 2014, I worked with dozens of experts contributing to the SHARP-C usability project. An important lesson learned from this project is that the essence of usability is improving visualization, analytics and workflow integration by co-creating solutions.  This usually involves a bit of clinical decision support, putting those reasonable "new options" on the screen for the user.

We are now in the era of value-based healthcare where HCAHPS scores play a huge role in reimbursement, and consumerism is a factor that cannot be ignored. Therefore, it’s time we rethink our path to usability. Are there opportunities to co-create it by giving providers and patients options to better identify evidence-based quality improvement opportunities? I think, yes! 

Private sector conveners need to step up and co-create specific usability solutions with standardized visualizations, analytics and workflows that enable us to achieve our national goals. Too many of the current approaches beleaguer providers and associations.  Implementors often discover and lament infeasible analytics and workflows.  The problem is more than insufficient quality assurance.  Without co-creation, our approach to decision support, measurement and inspection is too brittle. The necessary data, collection, workflows and specific action points don't scale when they lack the leadership of organizations like the AMA and AHA, clinical practices, and patient advocates. But they could and should. 

We know from experience that if we do not reframe usability as a two-way street by co-creating a path toward better quality, the term “usability” is an oxymoron. On our current path, we lack the ability to estimate a time of arrival, or even the likelihood of arrival.

What do you think?

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