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Medical Equipment: Analyzing Interfaces

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

By Meghann Ackerman

Apparently, I haven’t spent enough time in hospitals.

I learned this a few weeks ago at my second annual trip to the ER for dehydration. As I was enjoying the restorative effects of an IV, Victor was taking note of all the equipment in the room.

“That’s a terrible design,” he said, after a nurse came in to check on my heart monitor. “She obviously knows how to use it, but it’s not very intuitive.”

The combination of being a graphic designer and spending a lot of time staring at heart monitors means Victor has opinions about the user interfaces of medical equipment. I share information for a living, so this conversation made me wonder if a redesign of some screens could help make a trip to the hospital easier and more informative.

Being in the hospital—whether as a patient or accompanying a patient—is a stressful, sometimes scary experience. There’s a lot going on and you probably don’t understand most of it. The doctors and nurses are understandably busy and can’t stop to explain everything that’s going on, especially in an emergency. I’m sure there’s also a very legitimate fear of a patient taking a little bit of medical knowledge and trying to play doctor.

But there must be a compromise. Even labels on devices telling you what they’re monitoring could go a long way easing patient—well, at least my—hospital anxiety.

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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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