By Helena Bogdanova, a tech journalist with OCSICO. She covers tech news on IoT, mobile applications, healthcare and custom software development.
What does it take to release a new medication or medical device? We buy simple meds for flu, never wondering how many resources have been spent and people involved so that these small pieces could appear in our hands. An army of healthcare professionals conducts researches and clinical trials to produce safe and effective medications or medical equipment.
Clinical trials imply large amount of data that has to be documented: test and monitoring results, information about alleged dosage, the effect a new drug is expected to produce and so on. All the information is of great importance and must be carefully systematized and stored with the opportunity to be used for new or additional research after a medication or device has entered the market.
Data sharing problem
In the age of IT, most of the researchers prefer electronic documents to paper ones. It significantly accelerates the workflow as there is no need in digging in paper piles to find a necessary file.
Electronic information can be easily sent via e-mail to a colleague or uploaded to the cloud and become accessible to all authorized users. This is faster than dealing with traditional paper documents, but still isn’t quick enough. Users have to open an application each time again if it doesn’t have “always on top” feature or click on an e-mail box to check for new letters. Being very busy, researchers can’t do this right away, slowing down the workflow. Thanks to built-in reminders, a document management system can make the process of data sharing much more dynamic.
The way out
Companies that provide clinical trial research services are challenged to make the information exchange process more convenient to their employees and customers. For this purpose, they turn to the specialists in the healthcare software development services to create a smart and user-friendly document management system.
Hints for developers
- The easier the better
Functionality first! Too colorful UI design isn’t the right solution for a medical document management system. Convenience, quick access to information and fast data sharing — these are the aspects to focus on. Too many small elements and bright colors are likely to confuse and distract a user. Look at the colors of some already existing medical web portals or software: catchy but not annoying.
- Ensure close cooperation
Finding a common language with a customer isn’t always an easy task. IT specialists have to build up close communication with each client to understand what kind of system is needed. A thought-out software requirements specification, flowing from thoroughly documented client’s expectations, serves as the basis of the effective solution development process.
- Use images
A small image is worth a thousand of words. Scientists claim that people perceive visually about 70-90% out of the total amount of information. That’s why it’s better to share your ideas with a client using pics and diagrams. Besides, presentations that you show your customer at the project initial stage provide an insight into a system’s future UI.
- Observe end-users in work
It seems that clients know exactly what the final iteration of a system should look like. Who else but them?! The reality is that even consumers often fail to grasp all the nuances. That is why developers should pay a lot of attention to a medical trial workflow and observe researchers on-the-job. Surprising facts and peculiarities that nobody had any idea about before may be discovered in the process.
- Keep it simple
Confusing a customer with complicated terminology isn’t a wise thing to do. A medical practitioner isn’t likely to be good at software engineering, and an IT specialist hardly knows anything about analyzing medical test data. Therefore, expecting that a doctor or scientific researcher can give you advice on the development process, isn’t a good idea. You can count on their assistance in terms of HIPAA Security Rules, a set of measures for protecting confidential medical information.
- Don’t spam your customer
If you bury your client under countless e-mails with small issues or trivial information, close cooperation between you and the client will be impossible. Medical trials involve serious work that takes a lot of time and requires maximum focusing. That is why it’s better not to make your client nervous by multiple calls and e-mails unless your question is really important. However, you can gather small issues to send them together in one letter.
- Add e-mail notifications to your application
Medical experts can’t afford to be distracted by checking new e-mails from their colleagues too often. At the same time, if new data doesn’t reach a recipient quickly enough, it slows down medical trial workflow. Thus, don’t forget to add e-mail and home page notifications to your document management system, so that users won’t have to click on a window or an icon each time they want to check for new emails.
- Do more than your client expects
Two for the price of one! Create a mobile version of a document management system as well. Users will appreciate having seamless access to their records even when they are not at the working place.
- Put your customer in control
Let your client take care of all research project processes. Create accounts with different access levels. A user having admin access will be able to monitor a situation and adjust the workflow if needed.
- Don’t be afraid of further product changes
Even if a ready-made solution seems perfect, you shouldn’t be surprised that your client will probably want to make some changes with time. By the way, if a customer addresses you again – not a competitor company – it’s a good sign meaning that you have done a great job!
To sum it all up
Clinical trial is a complex process that requires a great deal of information storage and sharing. A perfectly tailored document management system, developed in accordance with the tips described in this article, is capable of making a medical trial workflow smoother and helps researchers end up with greater results.