As you’ve probably seen, since a few months now, the Medications section of our EMR has been showcasing a whole new look. And this look is totally different from the rest of the application!
Two types of reactions can be anticipated about this change:
- “Nice, a new interface! I can’t wait to use it!”
- “Aargh! I was used to the old version and I don’t have time to learn how to use this module for the second time.”
Does that ring a bell? That’s normal. Even if they are just caricatures, the attitude of a person facing change often falls somewhere between these two extremes. Some people love change, some others are scared of it.
However, when innovation is built upon strong foundation and principles, it’s easier to accept and appreciate proposed transformations. It’s even easier to accept when we understand motivations beneath that change. So, this is why we wanted to explain you the reasons why we’ve adopted new ergonomic standards: the Material Design.
What is Material Design?
By exploring the new Medications module graphic interface, you might have a sense of déjà vu. Whether it’s from using an Android smartphone, or by using some popular applications (Google Drive, Evernote, Slack), you might have already experienced this design. Material design is the graphic style adopted by Google in recent years in order to make interactions between their apps and users more user-friendly.
By using classic principles with a touch of innovation and the possibilities that are offered by this technology, this kind of ergonomic allows users to adopt the technology more easily and to standardize the look of the application for all platforms, so that users can find themselves more easily no matter if they are using a PC, a tablet or a smartphone.
Let’s sum up Google’s basic principles
- Material is the metaphor: Material is grounded in tactile reality, it’s whatever you can interact with on a daily basis. Material Design wants to replicate the material world objects behavior in the virtual world. Off course by adding a special touch to it as well.
- Everything is intentional: Each graphic element - color, scale, typography, etc. is intentional. We want the application to be visually interesting, but we want it to be simple to use. An emphasis on the core functionalities makes them easy to find.
- The importance of movement: During the navigation, some elements appear, disappear and change. Motion is essential for 2 reasons: focus the user’s attention where it really needs to be, and show the user that he is the main actor and is responsible of motions and actions in the application.
As this design was already quite popular on the market and that it seemed to have a great impact on the user experience, combined with the fact that we wanted to give our clients the best experience possible, it was natural for us to start using this style. This change will allow us to share with you new modules that are easier to use and that will be operational on diverse platforms.
Integrating Material Design at Omnimed
Let me explain you how the integration of this new ergonomic standard has influenced our working methods, both on the way we analyze the users’ needs as well as how our development process works.
From the analysis process
One of the main goal is obviously to create an application that is compatible on all platforms, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, a desktop, a touchscreen, etc. Based on this objective and on the fact that it’s more easy to create a product by iterations, starting by the simplest version and adding complexity with time, we came to the conclusion that the best methodology to adopt was to start developing core features, operations that will be used most often, and to always imagine them as easy to use on a mobile interface.
For example, our Medications module, which allows two core operations, viewing the patient’s medications and adding new medication: when opening this module, the patient’s medication profile is displayed right away and the option to add a medication is available just beside the position of the thumb on a mobile phone.
Once the basis is established, we can extend the standards to other platforms that offer a bigger working space. This allows us to add options in the interface to upgrade the user’s experience. This process give us the opportunity to get down to the simplest form of a module that could in fact be complicated, and to really understand the needs to meet, and then add more features to answer them all.
Starting to use Material Design imposes us a technology change. Having to establish the guidelines affecting the design and the way many items work in the front-end interface, and wanting to improve our architecture in order to be able to cooperate with partners, we chose AngularJS software structure to direct our front-end technologies.
At Omnimed, we’ve chosen to develop our application as if it’s a puzzle, which means that every piece is detachable, e.g. the appointment system, the prescriber, the patient index, etc. AngularJS structure allows us to take every single piece and display them as a coherent whole for the client (on the front-end). It also helps us to create interfaces which allow us to exchange information with other systems and use it in our application (e.g. with the QHR, with online-booking systems, etc.). AngularJS also helps us incorporate well-known tools that are developed by other businesses, which help us to save time by not having to develop them ourselves.
Even if this new orientation needs us to learn and use new methodologies, we’re convinced that with time, it will increase the quality of our products and the efficiency of our development process. And all of that is for one and only one reason: give you a better experience!
Soon in the application
Now you know the main reasons why the Medications module has changed. But we don’t want to stop there! The QHR viewer also uses this new standard. We’ll also soon release the new administrative center (patient index) which will also use it. In the long run, we want to work on a few modules so that they fit this new standard, always with the objective of giving you a better experience.
That’s it, you now know everything about the path we’ve taken that led us to the transformation of our application’s interface. We hope that this summary will help you understand this change and we hope that you will enjoy it!