Teamwork is considered the weakest link in most medical practices. Teamwork is important not only to get the job done, but also to grow your practice because the patient’s perception of teamwork is one of the two key factors for generating referrals (the other factor is their experience) . Therefore, the user interface of medical office management systems must be designed for teamwork.
This article builds on and concludes my previous reviews of two books on design: “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman and “Designing with the Mind in Mind” by Jeff Johnson. Both books emphasized the importance of the conceptual model, coherence, and responsiveness. It turns out that understanding the conceptual model doesn’t necessarily mean control, and both Norman’s and Johnson’s books fall short in addressing the design of complex software products that allow for teamwork or competition.
Think about how you learned to play chess. Someone explained to you that “a pawn goes like this and a knight goes like this. Your objective is to checkmate the king.” So did you know how to play the game? Could you assess your situation, opportunities and risks? Could you create an improvement strategy? Chess requires years of practice to learn to play well.
When it comes to social media and online communities, the concepts of walls, comments, sharing, and likes are almost self-explanatory and millions of people of different ages and cultures have no problem understanding the basic conceptual model. However, only a few networks work and grow, while most have not survived their first six months.
Tharon Howard – “Design to Thrive”
Tharon Howard is a professor at Clemson University and director of its Usability Testing Center. His book “Design to Thrive” focuses on what motivates people to join, stay and grow within an online community or social network, and formulates four strategic design principles for building successful online communities:
- Remuneration – individuals will not become members of a social network without a clear benefit. The most important compensation you have to offer is experience.
- Touching It exists in a community when its members believe that they can control or shape policies, procedures, issues, and standards. Different types of members – visitors, newbies, regulars, leaders, and elders – have different influence needs.
- Belonging They are the techniques and mechanisms to help the members of the community to belong to develop a sense of “social presence”, a sense of belonging to that community, that they identify with it and share a bond with its members. Shared mythologies, origin stories, initiation rituals, symbols, codes, rituals, and brand identity all contribute to belonging.
- Meaning – to be considered meaningful, your community must be well recognized, established as a “place of reference” to achieve the goals of its users, valued by people that its users respect, populated by people who are serious and passionate in their field, distinguished as a renowned brand for its users. The importance of your community is in the story you tell when you invite people to join, in the achievements of the members, in the shared videos and in the won contests.
Like chess, complex software products designed for teamwork, for example social media, need at least two levels of conceptual models:
- tactical: how to manage your wall and share comments (or how the pieces move on the chessboard)
- strategic: how to design a thriving social network where users can experience remuneration, influence, belonging and importance (or how to plan defense or offense on the chessboard)
Howard’s book focuses exclusively on the strategic level, leaving the successes and failures of UI design in popular and failed social media products to other authors.
Practice management involves various types of activities (patient scheduling, visit documentation, billing) that can be roughly divided into a six-step cycle below:
- Collect data
- Formulate goals, plans and tasks
- Assign tasks
- Check the execution of the task: go back to stage 1.
Steps 4, 5, and 6 above are all about teamwork. Teamwork also means working together to uncover mistakes, prevent future mistakes, and reduce their impact.
There seems to be a growing body of research and literature at every level of design. I hope to read a book that bridges the gap of the design of the tactical-strategic system.