Thoughts about UX Why nurses prefer paper

Hospitals have spent years implementing complex software systems that have left nurses missing paper. Cryptic screens can’t compete with the freedom of a pad and a pen. Who needs a drop-down menu when you can jot notes in the margins? A nurse’s day-to-day is an unpredictable hodgepodge of documenting procedures, administrating medications, and keeping the ward on schedule. The flexibility of written notes fit her workflow.

But let’s be real, even the most qualified, efficient nurse might need to spend almost 30 minutes of every hour (during her likely 12-hour shift) chasing information. That could be half her time trying to figure out who wrote what and where—and logging it in one of many disparate databases—all before she can care for her patients. The processes and systems that are currently in place are failing nurses and failing patients. Nurses long for the bygone days when paper was the only option—but every time they reach for a notepad, it’s a Band-Aid, not a cure.

This is what’s driving us to create a better UX paradigm called Infor Glide, where all the data exists on one interface that’s just as intuitive and easy-to-use as paper, so that nurses get comfortable enough to make the switch. The beauty of Glide is that it helps prioritize information so that a half-hour chase becomes a swipe and a click. All of the activity and communication within a unit can be centralized, so that nurses don’t waste time trying to track down the right chart in the right folder. Responding to a patient’s needs can be instantaneous.

Glide iOS app
Looking at patient C. Gregory in Glide opens a constellation of information, all on one interface, bringing all the systems together so that the information contextualizes itself. Everything there is to know about this patient’s situation is all on one screen.

What is currently a one-dimensional experience—one chart and one screen at a time—can be brought together to create an interface that adds immense value. Countless disparate systems within the hospital produce data every second. Why aren’t we pulling it together and presenting it in real time, all in one experience? What I’m talking about is context. Using Glide, a nurse could investigate her shift and immediately know: The patient in room 104 has pneumonia. She swipes to the next screen and sees his chest X-rays and oxygen saturation in real-time. Everything looks fine. She swipes to room 105—a new patient. John Barnes has just been transferred from intensive care. He’s feeling better after being admitted for a blood infection. His history shows the doctor changed his prescription and the next dose is due in ten minutes. She checks staff availability—without tracking down the paper assignment sheet or logging into yet another system—and assigns Roberta to care for John; she was his nurse when she picked up a shift in the ICU over the weekend. Roberta instantly receives the notification on a screen in room 118 and can make her way to 105 with time to spare.

Unlike paper, or the systems in place, well-designed software provides data in context, which allows for a cumulative understanding. No one will work in a vacuum—every patient has a story, and every nurse will be on the same page of that story. From the moment the patient is admitted, the right information will be accessible to everyone, all at once. Our vision for Glide is an all-encompassing, intuitive interface that understands the complexities of the job and adds enough value to stop nurses from reaching for their notepads.