On July 20, 2021, Experience Care, a 52-year-old long-term care software company, released its most recent system. But something was different. This time, the software was actually easy to use.
Nursing homes have long suffered from antiquated software that wastes the valuable time of nurses and even turns them away from using the expensive technology entirely. A Black Book survey found that 92 percent of nurses are dissatisfied with the workflow of their EHRs.
Even worse, issues with usability can lead to significant harm, according to EHR surveillance data collected by the ONC and a study conducted by the AMIA Board of Directors, including significant overdose. “Anyone in long-term care knows the software is often more a pain than a partner,” said Jason Long, Experience Care’s CEO. “The problem is that leaders in the industry have not made user experience a point of focus.”
Under Long’s leadership, Experience Care, one of the original long-term care EHR vendors, modernized its approach. “When I first started here, I saw that the edit button was all the way to the left, and the delete button was right next to it,” said Long. “This kind of outdated design has been the standard in the industry for far too long. It’s a potentially dangerous standard because it makes it easier to delete potentially critical information, so we’re changing the standard.”
The task for Experience Care’s new team of designers was simple: resolve common usability issues and get long-term care software to the cutting edge of tech. That means relying on user experience (UX)—which has been shown to significantly boost customer happiness and retention— and design thinking—a scientific process of usability testing—to ensure we have evidence-based improvements to systems usage. “When you look at amazing design patterns, like on Google’s Material Design patterns, the reason their sites are easy to use is not just that they have great artists,” Long said. “Rather, they identify precisely how to immerse users in the experience. It’s not what you see, but what you don’t see, and it’s all based on science.”
So what did the new team of designers at Experience Care change? Among other things, they added:
- The use of color and shape-defined icons
- A mouse hover that changes the color tone of each row when the cursor is placed on a row
- An understandable and intuitive flow of information
Seems pretty standard? That’s because it is. Believe it or not, long-term care software had never embraced the standard conventions of graphic design before Long and his team joined Experience Care. It is too early to know just how these changes have impacted long-term care, but it is inevitable that these long-overdue updates will improve communication and reduce errors, putting elders at a lower risk of suffering harm.
About Experience Care LLC: Founded in 1969, Experience Care LLC provides electronic health records, revenue cycle management, and financial systems to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities, long-term acute care, and other long-term care organizations in the U.S. Experience Care’s mission is to make every long-term care organization a fulfilling place to live and work by helping maximize financial success and compliance to achieve the best teams, care, and outcomes.