Return to the emergency room

This morning I returned to the emergency room at Bispebjerg Hospital to do a presentation of our Interaction Design project at their morning meeting. This presentation has been underway for the longest time, mostly due to the fact that these people always seem to be busy, and you have to be patient in order to find a date for such a presentation.

When I arrived, the door to the emergency room was locked – presumably because the night shift was still in charge at 8 am. So I rang the bell and was let in. As I approached the counter, I received the “now-what-might-be-wrong-with-you” look from the nurse in charge, all ready with a new journal and a pen. But when I explained that I was here for to do the presentation at their morning meeting, she immediately turned off the professional stare and greeted me in a friendly tone.

I didn’t really notice this when we did our study here the last time around, but today I clearly saw the way that patients are treated is clearly different than from how other people (or professionals) are welcomed at the emergency room. It is a distinct professional care or concern – a pre-examination that categorizes you as a patient from the get-go.

But I digress. I did the presentation using all of our mock-ups and proto-types, and it all went pretty well. There was maybe 20 people in attendence – almost all them women for some reason – and they were very receptive to the ideas that we had developed. They looked at our storyboard [big .pdf!] and they generally agreed with the way that we had reconstructed the flow of imformation around the department.

“It is a bit simplified, though.” One the nurses commented.

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, you missed the step where the journals lie in the window sill waiting to get sorted.” She smiled at the rather intricate procedure that they’ve developed.

They liked the whole idea of both the bracelets and the digital patient map, though some were concerned about the RFID chips that might produce too much electro-magnetic something-or-another which might not be healthy. Not having the slightest clue about the possible dangers of the radio chips, I said so, but pointed out that since these chips are being used in many other different projects, we’ll hopefully know soon enough if they’re dangerous or not.

They also noted that if we were to reuse the bracelets, then we’d better make them pretty sturdy as they would have to disinfect them for every new patient. I had to admit that we hadn’t really thought of that, at all.

But generally, it seemed that they were pretty impressed with how much data we had managed to gather and analyze, and not once did they say that our conclusions were wrong or based on wrong assumptions. It was quite a positive experience, especially since the staff also seemed quite interested in the new technology and the fact that wouldn’t require them to learn intricate new ways of coordinating their work.

As they noted, they’ve been stuck with the same ancient digital journal system since 1993, as all attempts to develop new systems have been deterred in hope of incorporating the latest technology. Hopefully, now that a new national electronic journal system has been proposed, something will happen – and when it does, it would be an open opportunity to integrate something like our patient map with it.

They were also curious as to the actual expenses and possibility of implementing such a system, but I had to admit that we had done little research into how much it might cost – especially since much of the technology involved is still very new, and we designed with Ubiquitous Computing Coolness (UCC) in mind, pretty much unhindered by reality.

I also managed to preach a bit about the virtues of Interaction Design when it comes to taking the users’ view into account, since the traditional way of the users defining the specifications directly to the developers and implementors rarely seem to work well.

After they’d had a chance to ask their questions, od which there weren’t that many, I gave them all of our mock-ups and my presentation notes. They said that they’d make sure that anybody who might be interested got a chance to have a look at it. I hope it makes sense without the presentation.

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