Wireframe S2 Episode 1—A Prescription for Good Design

“Why Is Healthcare UX Such a Mess?” by Lucas Wakamatsu

Here is the first episode of our second season of “Wireframe,” our documentary podcast about the design of digital products and experiences, hosted by yours truly.

This season we’re looking at the limits of what design can do. And straight out of the gate we’re not being shy about tackling big topics like, well, American healthcare. Specifically we dig into the user experience of the electronic health records systems that our doctors have to contend with when they would much prefer to be spending that time talking with patients. That’s something I suspect everyone wants.

To dive into this topic I took a trip to the emergency room at NYU Langone Medical Center to observe firsthand how doctors like Shannon McNamara work with their electronic health records systems. It was eye-opening for me to observe how she has to wrangle with what most designers would consider to be incredibly complex and even use-hostile screen interfaces. Later, I learned that some providers of these systems are so proprietary that they don’t even allow screen captures of their software interfaces, even for purposes of reporting bugs in the software itself. You can imagine how that hasn’t helped the overall friendliness of these systems. And on top of that, there’s the hardware experience, too; the computers running these EHRs are mounted on carts that need to be wheeled around from patient to patient. As a designer standing in the middle of all that, I bristled at the sheer amount of stuff that so desperately needed to be redesigned.

There’s tons more on this subject in the episode, of course, so listen to it above or subscribe in your favorite podcast app. And, if you want to learn more about the role design plays in our healthcare system, we’re writing blog posts for each episode that expand on what you hear on the show; you can read this week’s post at theblog.adobe.com. By the way, this series of blog posts will each feature amazing artwork by the fantastic Brazilian illustrator Lucas Wakamatsu; you can see the first one above.

If you’re not familiar with “Wireframe,” it’s a unique kind of design podcast produced by Adobe and Gimlet Creative and hosted by yours truly. Instead of merely interviewing well known designers, we dig into the world of interaction design via heavily researched reporting and engaging narratives. In other words, stories instead of résumés. If you liked today’s episode, be sure to check out all six of the installments from our first season as well.

Illustration by Lucas Wakamatsu.