Oncology EHR: Macadamian helps create a mobile Electronic Medical Record application prototype for the Apple iPad
To explore whether oncologists would use – and benefit from – a mobile Electronic Medical Record application, a publicly traded oncology and x-ray systems company turned to Macadamian for help. Leveraging Macadamian’s user research, interaction design and Apple iPad software development services, the company developed an iPad prototype that will help the company obtain valuable user feedback.
Macadamian engaged with a leading company in Palo Alto develops software products and medical devices that aid in the treatment of cancer and other medical conditions. Many of the company’s products are used by oncologists – physicians who specialize in the treatment of cancer – and the company wished to explore the benefits of a mobile application for this important user group.
“We wanted to see whether we could develop a mobile device app that would help improve workflows in oncology clinics,” explains the company’s Senior Manager of User Experience. “We could see the potential of a mobile application and were getting questions from users about whether we planned to create something for a mobile device.”
The organization’s CEO asked the company’s development team to create a prototype application that could be showcased at an important industry trade show. That trade show, however, was only three months away.
Seeking out External Expertise
“We were facing an enormous time crunch. We had experienced designers and developers on staff, but we had never designed anything for a mobile device. Moreover, all of our engineers were tied up with other projects.”
The project’s tight deadline prompted the company to seek out third-party development support. Its initial efforts to find a reliable partner, however, came up short.
“We contacted two or three software development companies that had expertise in iPad app development or that had developed medical applications for mobile devices. We learned, though, that these companies were strictly engineering shops – they needed all of the specific product requirements up front. What we needed was someone who could help to define the requirements, determine the scenarios that the app should address, and then use that information to develop a prototype.”
Choosing an End-to-End Partner
The company understood the importance of user research, interaction design and good software development practices and was seeking a partner that could address each of those areas.
“We remembered that a company called Macadamian had provided us with some lunch and learn sessions on user research and usability so thought that they could be an excellent fit. The fact that they had experts in all areas of the product development cycle was a big selling point for us – especially since this project was so time sensitive.”
Macadamian hit the ground running by conducting a site visit at an oncology clinic to perform user research and understand the daily needs and goals of its physicians. The client, which has an internal user experience group, also provided Macadamian with all of its existing research data.
“Macadamian follows the same user research practices that we do so it was very easy to communicate with them and get them up to speed on what we were looking to do. They understood immediately what we were looking for.”
Defining and Developing a Mobile Application
The client was looking to develop an application that oncologists could access on a mobile tablet device, such as an iPad, to simplify their workday activities.
“On a weekly basis, a radiation therapy patient will visit his or her oncologist to discuss the progress of the therapy. To prepare for these visits, the oncologist needs to access and analyze the patient’s most recent results. We envisioned an app that would allow the oncologist to check his daily schedule and task list, navigate to a patient’s chart, receive a summary of results and dig further into the chart if necessary. We also wanted the app to accept information so that the physician could make notes and modify information on the fly.”
Macadamian researched oncologist taskflows and behaviours then began work on the interaction design. “Macadamian’s interaction design work was top-notch. The very first concept they showed us was simple and straightforward.”
When it came time to develop the prototype’s user interface, Macadamian worked in concert with the client’s graphic design experts to ensure that the UI was both intuitive and attractive. “We gave Macadamian our ideas on look and feel, colours and layouts, and they worked with our graphic designer to come up with a layout. Macadamian did the final implementation and production of the UI and we were very pleased with it.”
The client was also pleased with Macadamian’s ability to keep the project on schedule. “I was impressed with Macadamian’s project management skills and how well we were integrated into their process. We had daily calls of ten to fifteen minutes to make sure that everything was in sync, and Macadamian provided us with weekly check-ins to keep us abreast of their progress. The entire process was very professional.”
Completing the Project on Schedule
Despite the short project timeline, Macadamian delivered a full-featured, working EMR mobile app prototype ahead of the oncology conference.
“Thanks to Macadamian, we will be able to put the application in the hands of oncologists that visit our booth and gather their feedback. “No other application like this exists, so this is sure to get attention. More importantly, though, showcasing the prototype will help us refine it and confirm whether there is a market for this type of app.”
The client credits the successful development of the prototype to its close working relationship with Macadamian. “It was great working with Macadamian and we would definitely consider working with them again – whether that is to perform further work on this project or on another one. “Developing mobile applications isn’t part of our core business, so it is good to know that we have a partner with this expertise that we can count on.”
Macadamian is a global software consultancy that helps companies create successful products. Product development leaders turn to Macadamian to develop product strategies, design compelling user experiences, and build quality software. We transform ideas into market-ready products that your customers will love.
For more information, we invite you to read our other Healthcare usability and technology case studies and our HIMSS white paper,