I’ve been in software for more than three decades, and I know from personal experience that you only get to truly start over about every 10 years. The rest of the time you have to start with the current product.
Think about the transition from DOS to Windows or from MacOS to OSX – those new UI breakthroughs and new ways of talking to the computer happen rarely. Great products (and great breakthroughs) happen when companies don’t just “convert” to a new platform, but instead they reconsider, “What is the user trying to do? How can we help them do it easier?”
We’re in the midst of the next grand transition – to keyboard-free tablets like iPad. This transition gave us the chance to start over, and you can see the results in Allscripts Wand™, a new, intuitive iPad application for EHRs.
When Easy Is Hard
I remember hearing a physician speak at a conference. He pleaded, “Why can’t it just be easy?” I wish I knew who he was – because that question burned in my head for a long time.
So when we built Wand, instead of thinking “How do we get this done in XX months?” or “How do we get our existing product to run in that tablet?” we started over. We strove to answer the physician’s question, “Why can’t it just be easy?”
And that forced us to make some tough choices – what do we NOT do? We were tempted to try to “make all things possible,” but then we’d have to give up “easy.” So we focused on simplifying the most common activities on-the-go clinicians need to access.
The result: simple things such as renewing a medication or marking a problem as resolved take only two touches on an iPad.
Starting with that one physician’s plea, we created Wand by listening. Since we don’t interact with patients, we reached out to our user community—the people we’re building Wand for.
For example, last week we added “Date of last visit” and “Date of next visit” to patient messages as they are displayed in Wand. It wasn’t our idea, but when two users submitted the request, we responded.
See it Yourself
Go to the Apple AppStore and download Wand. You can teach it to yourself because it runs in demonstration mode. It’s free. If nothing else, you can get a clear indication of what the future will bring.
And you have ideas for the next version, please post a comment. I’m listening.