What if your EMR was designed by a graphic designer and rendered well on the iPhone?

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What if your EMR was designed to be as intuitive and visually pleasing as an app on your iPhone?

After launching the meaningful use program to get more more health information in a digital format, the government has  moved on to the next challenge: updating the design of the information for the 21st century.

Convinced that their true value lies in actually how it presents the data, the federal government – more precisely the Veteran Affairs department – posed designers a challenge: reimagine the electronic medical record.


The designers had these goals that needed to be fulfilled through their EMR redesign:

  • Improve the visual layout and style of information as it is presented in an medical record
  • Create a user-friendly design or what the government calls “human-centered” design that enables patients to manage their health easily
  • Empower heatlh professionals to truly understand what the EMR contains to help them use it more effectively and
  • Help care givers like friends and family to take care of their loved ones

More than 230 design submissions were made. You can check out the best of them here.

Here’s the winning entry called the Nightingale, which builds on four simple themes the designers – Amy Guterman, Stephen Menton, Defne Civelekoglu, Kunal Bhat, Amy Seng, and Justin Rheinfrank from gravitytank, a Chicago consultancy – constructed. An EMR needs to be:

  • dynamic – something that “prioritizes the here and now and surfaces how our health is improving or worsening”
  • holistic – something that “shows us how visits, prescriptions and lab results are interrelated
  • understandable -something that “minimized jargon and presents information in visual and understandable ways”
  • personalized – something that “is designed for us, giving us the information we need to take control of our health

 But this is not an academic exercise. Veteran Affairs plans to take the next two months to build several combinations of the winning designs in an open-sourced manner on GitHub. Finally, EMRs nationwide will be able to integrate these designs into their systems as well as contribute to the project.

A million-dollar question remains: Are we going to see EMR behemoth Epic lure away some of these gravitytank folks?


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Arundhati Parmar

By Arundhati Parmar

Arundhati Parmar is the Medical Devices Reporter at MedCity News. She has covered medical technology since 2008 and specialized in business journalism since 2001. Parmar has three degrees from three continents - a Bachelor of Arts in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India; a Masters in English Literature from the University of Sydney, Australia and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University in Chicago. She has sworn never to enter a classroom again.
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