Healthcare Software Development
The OSU Assistive Technology (AT) Center is a clinic that specializes in assisting individuals in the evaluation, selection, and use of assistive technology to improve their independence and quality of life. The rehab engineer at this clinic, Carmen DiGiovine, was looking to improve workflows for employees. The goal of this project was to improve the efficiency of employees that would improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and patient experience.
I designed and implemented many solutions at the AT Center, however, the following page will focus on the software I chose to develop as way to improve a key process: documentation of wheelchair propulsion analysis.
Role & Methods
My role was to
- observe current processes
- conduct user interviews and usability testing
- identify opportunities for improvement
- design, develop, and implement solutions using methodologies from the Toyota Production System and Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto
Observations of Current Processes
After observing current workflows and conducting user interviews, use of the SmartWheel was identified as a key opportunity to improve efficiency. The SmartWheel is a device that collects data about the way an individual propels their wheelchair. During a propulsion analysis with the SmartWheel, plots of multiple variables such as force and stroke length are generated that need to be transferred to the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). The current process was to individually select, copy, and label these plots, making the documentation time excessive compared to other tasks performed in the clinic and compared to billable time of the procedure.
Solutions implemented ranged from simple to complex.
Reducing documentation time was the most involved solution. In order to eliminate time-consuming tasks as mentioned above, a Matlab software program was developed. This program generated a document with pre-labeled plots that was able to be quickly copied into the patient’s EMR. Additionally, work was able to be plotted in these reports to help further justify a patients’ need for a particular device. This was a plot that was not generated by the original SmartWheel software. Checklists were also developed for use of the Matlab program to help improve employee adoption of a new process.
*Note: this graphic includes only key features
Simple issues were easily resolved. The more complex solution, the Matlab program, ultimately performed as intended. Employees now have the ability to run software that reduces documentation time and generates plots on a new variable: work. Unfortunately due to the temporary nature of my role as well as the fact that this project was only a component of my overall duties at the AT Center, I did not have time to collect usability data on the use of the MatLab program. However, in future projects, that would be an important component for continuous improvement of the product.