July 24, 2019

Simple EHR workflow: only 2 screens

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In early 2019 I considered the question: "What is the most simple electronic health record application that could be built? What are the absolute fewest number of moving pieces needed?

This is all part of the purpose of trying to build an an EHR application that is so fast to operate, that it can replace the paper workflow of clinicians.

I nicknamed this experimental project: Simple App. At the time, I entirely forgot that the team at Resolve to Save Lives had already created an app of the very same name (and virtually very same purpose). (Well done guys)

Based on the prior blog post (The 3(+1) essential tasks of an EHR), the clinical user needs to (1) select a patient, (2) display information about the patient, and (3) capture information about the patient.  

The workflow division is quite clear:

2 screen workflow.jpg
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In this way, the most simple EHR only requires two pages:

  1. A page to select a patient. Being called "HOME"
  2. A page that displays information, or enables you to enter information about the patient. That will be called the PATIENT FILE. (I’ll explain why this is not call the “patient chart” later).

The workflow options are only:

  • Patient ID => see stuff => back home
  • Patient ID => enter stuff => back home
  • Patient ID => see & enter stuff => back home

This clear separation between patient identification & the open patient file is a concept that extends to the complex of EHRs.


Can't we also 'see the patient list' while in the patient chart?

Yes, I think it is a reasonable request to be able to navigate to the next patient's chart from within the current patient chart. It is also reasonable to "overlay" patient identification found in the home section 'overtop' of the patient file to make it easier to change files.

However, with the purpose of keeping things very straightforward, at this time it is best to consider "Home" and "Patient File" as two entirely separate parts of the application that the user has to switch between.

Can we open multiple patient files on the screen at once?

Having multiple patient charts open on the screen at once is more complicated. Technically it is more complicated to load and unload multiple components and ensuring with 100% certainty they are all synced to a single patient. Visually having multiple patient charts open on screen at once poses potential for between-chart errors. I will write a much longer piece dedicated to this separately.

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