Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

For a while on the internet, you could bet that almost every 20 something year old who had watched Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech in 2005 was quoting that famous phrase ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’. It’s really struck a chord within me this past week.

I have attended HISA’s HIC Conference in Sydney this week (#HIC18) and it was one of the best conferences I have ever attended. They say that if you’re in a room and you’re the smartest person there, you’re in the wrong room. At the conference, I felt as if I was in the right room, there were so many brilliant minds among me that it was actually humbling to be there. I felt very lucky to have decided to attend the conference. It was akin to a ‘the more you know, the more you realise how much you don’t know’. The world of health informatics truly opened up my mind and led me to realise how much more is out there and how much more I have yet to learn and develop skills in.

This really isn’t too much of a post on UX but I feel compelled to jot down a few thoughts, as it will assist in my professional development anyway. 

Lightbulb Moments
There are often times in every working person’s career where they have a lightbulb moment of realisation. The path of figuring out what you want to do with your career isn’t easy. We are entrusted to choose what we want to do straight out of high school, when we are green and honestly haven’t seen much of the world yet. It is only when we burst out of that bubble that we understand that there is more to the world of careers than simply those traditional jobs that we know of. Ben Chestnut, the CEO of Mailchimp, put this quite simply where our careers are never linear but more like a zig-zag line. You have to stumble a little bit, work in something to realise that you really didn’t like it in the first place to actually find out your true calling....

Physiotherapy Days
Harking back to the few years I have been in the workforce, I have worked as a physiotherapist and now currently within the world of health management. I fondly recall those lightbulb moments when I was a physio student... It was when I was at my first clinical rotation at an outpatient department in a hospital. I honestly wasn’t sure if I physio was the right profession for me but after seeing how much of an effect that my treatments had on my patients, I felt that it was the right decision, purely due to the fact that I had such an influence on how I could help a person with their life and their health. 

The next lightbulb moment happened when I was a new graduate physiotherapist in the health system, coming to a realisation of the influential work that health managers do in the system. They may not have direct contact with patients, but they do innovative work that has direct impacts on the patients and can empower them in their wellbeing. That was when I decided to make the switch to management. 

At #HIC18, I had my next lightbulb moment. HIC truly opened my eyes to the world out there with regards to health informatics. There is so much to learn and so much that we can do to create bigger and better outcomes for our patients. The future right now is unwritten and we are on the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution. The future is clear, the way we go about our lives and how we deliver healthcare to our patients will be increasingly enabled through digital means. The onus and the responsibility of care will be in the hands of the patients and we need to collaborate/co-design our solutions with patients to empower them and deliver care that is personalised and relevant. 

DXC Technologies and the Consumer Approach

DXC Technologies provided a workshop on how  we need to drop the notion that ‘patients’ are ‘patients’ but that they are consumers and to utilise a customer centric model that is prevalent in other industries, to ensure that we deliver a solution that is targeted as opposed to poorly designed.

Dana Lewis on #OpenAPS and empowering patients to innovate


@danamlewis provided a compelling keynote on shattering the notions that patients cannot innovate because they don’t have the qualifications or this or that. Dana challenged all these entrenched views and showed the audience how she proactively managed her health by taking control of her frustrations and developed the #OpenAPS (Open artificial pancreas) that enabled her to address the issues of glucose fluctuations in her T1DM. It was absolutely mind blowing to hear how her #OpenAPS has proliferated through the international community with more than 700 people having had access to it and have used it to manage their T1DM.

Soul Machines and the Future of AI

Soul Machines, a New Zealand company, provided a jaw-dropping keynote on the technologies for artificial intelligence. As opposed to talking to a chat bot, Soul Machines have developed technology for their Virtual Humans, that have virtual nervous systems and can process talking to a real human in real time to stunning results. The application of this technology is endless in the world of healthcare, where patients in remote communities can utilise talking to a virtual human to be directed in their care, saving both time and money whilst providing a comprehensive service. 

Blockchain in Healthcare - where are we going?

Another hot issue is Blockchain in health and this topic was hotly discussed in a workshop. After the rise and rise and then dramatic fall of bitcoins at the beginning of the year, Blockchain has seen it become rather famous or indeed, infamous. Akin to the Dotcom bubble of the turn of the Millenium, where people were freaking out about the WWW (yet now we see the WWW as probably one of the greatest inventions ever), blockchain is following that same trajectory. After the Dotcom bubble burst, the internet found its place and started to figure itself out and what its uses are. 


Blockchain - we still don’t know what the far reaching capabilities of it is (other than with people playing around with crypto and making a lot of money), but we are traversing another horizon with it. A speaker at the workshop noted that with blockchain, eventually it’ll find its place and we will understand more of its purpose and how it can put the trust back into organisations. The applications of blockchain in healthcare and within society will drive fundamental changes. With the technology of creating transactions within an open ledger, provides integrity and trust and security to data. In a context where people are increasingly concerned with their data (as we had seen in the rollout of My Health Records in Australia), blockchain has the potential to revolutionise institution’s relationships with patients regarding their personal information.

Healthcare IT in the US

David Bates provided a compelling and comprehensive international perspective on healthcare IT advancements in the US. I know about the IOT and how we can utilise remote monitoring in the community to enhance patient’s control of their care, but this talk made me realise how many more things are out there that can empower the hospital to smartly fit out their infrastructure to their advantage to leverage the technologies of real time monitoring for enhanced patient care. 

David Bates introduced technologies such as Centrella - which are smart beds in the hospital with sensors attached all around with remote monitoring smarts. In an age where patients are interacting more and more with each other on facebook and other social media platforms, David Bates challenged the audience to also stop thinking them as patients but as consumers, to create digital marketing strategies to reach out to these patients and educate them. Finally, patients LOVE data and LOVE monitoring themselves. It is an inevitable advancement due to the IOT. Open APIs are imperative to enable the revolution where it isn’t the Doctor that will see you now, it is the patient. 

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

And this is why this blog is titled, ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’. Props to you if you managed to read all my ramblings and thoughts from late at night. Well done. But if you’re a TLDR; Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. There is so much out there to keep learning to keep improving. Don’t stay complacent in what you know, because as you continue to expand your horizons, you’ll realise how much more that you have yet to learn.

The Next Lightbulb Moment 

The world of health informatics is gaining traction and I am excited to be part of it all, within the excitement and within all the challenges. I know the health system will evolve and mature to cater for the next wave of our we as consumers engage technologies for our lives but for now, there is much to do. My next lightbulb moment - health informatics and definitely, more UX. I can’t wait. 

UX Workshop at #HIC18

HIC 2018 is in Sydney this year and this year I had the pleasure of going to the UX workshop that was held pre-conference. I particularly enjoyed the perspectives given by Bennett Lauber - The Chief Experience Officer at The Usability People (USA) and the workshop on co-design facilitated by Dr Emma Blomkamp and Dr Chris Marmo of Melbourne design consultancy PaperGiant. 

The Importance of Co-design

Telehealth is one of those things in healthcare which is often met with groans and resistance from clinicians due to many failed attempts to launch such initiatives. As such, the failure rate has been very high. Karrie Long of The Royal Melbourne Hospital provided a presentation as to how RMH used co-design principles to create a user centric telehealth platform that addressed user's pain points. Karrie showed us a picture of this entrance at RMH which is one example of extreme poor UX, how can anyone work out what is going on in this picture? The thinking with showing us this front door was that the team needed to create a digital front door experience that was easy and simple to use.

When you need signs in health you know that the UX is not functional....

When you need signs in health you know that the UX is not functional....

Considering the experiences that patients have at the RMH with wayfinding being such a pain, the team created a digital front door for telehealth that was simple and straightforward. This is extracted from the RMH Website. 



A simple interface for users to click directly to engage with their clinician whilst the administrative staff configures the access points to enable patients to attend their digital consult in a straightforward manner, encourages a positive patient experience and changes the negative attitudes to telehealth.

PaperGiant facilitated a workshop on the principles of co-design, which was interesting and very relevant to the work that is completed in healthcare. The facilitators walked us through a case study, looking at the questions that we need to ask to extract the core information that the client may want. For example, the client may THINK that they want a certain solution for their problem but in actual fact, what they are looking for is that they want to solve a problem - the method as to how this is achieved is irrelevant because this can be elucidated through your user research. 

Full credit to This tool was provided to workshop participants.

Full credit to This tool was provided to workshop participants.

Usability x UX

The UX talk that challenged my thinking the most was Bennett Lauber's talk on usability. It was interesting to see the health system from an international perspective, in this case the UX and the various political agendas that have influenced the climate of digital health over there. The US has a much more mature model for hospitals that have EMRAM Level 6/7 (EMR Adoption Model) whereas in Australia, we are miles behind. Bennett emphasised the importance for conducting your user research through methods such as persona mapping (as I have blogged about previously) and surveys to really get to understanding the user's needs. And as a tip, Bennett noted that Contextual Enquiries, which is basically going to the client's context and understanding the things that they do, if there are workarounds or other pain points, to really see the impact of how the things we design impact the workflows for our clinicians. 

The thing that was most interesting for me was the 'myth of fewer clicks'. As a widespread belief, the fewer clicks it takes to achieve the user's objectives, the better it is. Bennett challenged this notion, by stating that perhaps in healthcare what we want isn't just fewer clicks, but instead at times we need to force the users to go through more clicks so that we can mitigate risk and attain better health data. This really made me think. Sometimes we need to burden our users to get better and more accurate healthcare data so that we can understand the larger trends that emerge. If we simplify the system too much, the richness of the data or the potential to attain that level of acuity of data might be missed.

Furthermore, users of the system can quickly turn from novice to intermediate users rather quickly. So as to why some healthcare software systems are deliberately complex, it is to enable the intermediate to expert users to have the ability to customise their user flows. What was striking to me was Bennetts comment that novice vs. an experienced user will interact with the software differently, perhaps simplifying software really isn't the agenda after all.... Definite food for thought. 

In a previous post, I mentioned Nielsen's Heuristics. Well, guess what? There are healthcare specific heuristics!!!! You can find the Nielsen-Shneiderman Heuristics HERE

How do we get our organisations to talk more about UX?

UX's value lies in the ROI for an organisation. The short term gains for investing in UX are not highly visible in many healthcare organisations. In a constrained funding environment with many competing priorities, there is no doubt that resources should be used to address patient issues. But considering poor UX in healthcare software, with a poorly designed experience, this creates the need for training the trainer and training the users, which is a high cost for organisations. Perhaps it is important to indicate to organisations that UX investment in the healthcare space has potential to reduce lost hours spent in training rooms and therefore, leave enough time for clinicians to care more for patients. And to that effect, with poor UX in healthcare software, risks may be prevalent for example, having interfaces that have too much cognitive load and thus, confusing the user and creating chaos..... 

Week 6 of UX

I won't pretend to claim that I know much about UX as I only started delving into this subject area last month. I am definitely a novice and the more I read, the more I realise that there is so much to learn in the area of UX. I feel somewhat overwhelmed at how influential UX is in terms of all facets of the design journey. 

As a person who works on the management side of health, improving patient care outcomes has always been at the forefront of my mind. The organisations I have worked for have placed immense focus on measurable KPIs and thus, this had been my initial frame of reference. In the first two weeks of my UX class, we were taught how to write How Might We statements.

How Might We statements are purposed to frame problem statements into design opportunities. It elicits empathy from the UX designer, to turn the problem into something that can assist with alleviating user pain points. My initial How Might We statements were absolutely hopeless, they were:

  • how might we improve patient flow within the emergency department?
  • how might we improve patient flow within the hospital to decrease wait time?

These statements, although they do have an edge of thinking about the patient i.e. decreasing wait time, were absolutely wrong. I didn't even realise that I was subconsciously putting the business' goals into my how might we statement, detracting any focus on the user... No wonder I just didn't get it. It wasn't until the next few weeks that I could finally break the preconception of focussing on business needs and actually incorporate the user's needs. My how might we's eventually improved...

  • how might we better understand patients needs on discharge so that we can help them feel more satisfied with their care?
  • how might we decrease the time patients spend in hospital to ensure that they are satisfied with their care?

The shift in the tone was evident, I was finally able to create questions to begin my user research... 

Healthcare and UX at Academy Xi

I started my UX course at Academy Xi last month and I feel as if I will be documenting the journey here because it will be interesting to see how much I have learnt.

The main impetus for applying for a $3500 AUD course was quite simple down to a few things:

  • A few life things had happened and thus, I had some time to myself 
  • Through this whole process, I've gained more perspective and now I am much more focussed in my career. I want to be innovative and forward thinking
  • Because learning a technical skill is invaluable

But the biggest factor was basically I started to realise how there were so many projects in health that have a digital element. Interfaces were becoming digital and inherently, I can see a major factor of risk. Health is notorious for having poorly designed and counter-intuitive interfaces that makes a crappy app store app look genius. I can't begin to fathom why clinicians keep putting up with horribly designed programmes that have poor usability and I think the poor design can often lead to mistakes. And the Swiss cheese model takes over here, where a multitude of tiny issues can ultimately lead to a catastrophic failure. Due to the fact that the user experience component is hardly ever thought of in health, I thought it would be perfect to understand the framework behind this thought process and combine it with health. 

My first class at Academy Xi was great and I felt like I was finally tapping into the creative side of my brain that I never really thought I had. My class has 11/14 graphic designers, so most people are creative. What I enjoy about UX is that it isn't simply about your ability to draw great things, but it is the embodiment of human factors, functionality, elegance and aesthetic to deliver an experience that caters to the user's requirements. We were thrown into doing a rapid prototyping/ideation exercise that stretched the limits of my creative thought process. What truly amazed me was how effective it was to use these constructs to deliver a viable and workable solution. It was a great way to be thrown into a foreign world of UX and I can definitely see that there is a relevance of UX in my job/career. I'm super excited to incorporate the things I learn into this course.

This is the beginning of a new journey. It's full of so much opportunity.