Don’t blame IT

How many times have you heard (or said it yourself) “it’s IT’s fault”, “the IT department is a black hole”, “what were they thinking?”, “why is this system so bad?”. Don’t be so quick to point the finger at the technical side of things. Look more closely and what you’ll find – more often than not – is that usability was left out of the planning equation.

During implementations, the technology folks did the best they could with what they had. After a system is put into use. they focus on keeping things running.

Some of the worst offenders can be found on government sites, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementations and, in my experience, healthcare-oriented systems. In almost all cases, these complicated systems were either home grown or pulled out of a box without deep, user-centered consideration.

Unfortunately, because EHRs often require complex technical integration, design and usability are often an afterthought and fail to incorporate a robust user-centered design process or full scale usability testing.*

In the age of electronic healthcare record (EHR) keeping, the systems are incredibly intricate. What happens when UX is left off of the planning table? The whole experience tends to suffer the consequences.

I’m not just zeroing in on healthcare.

I recently encountered the online properties managed by the Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development. They’re horrendous. Finding various sites is difficult, at best, and using the recently implemented UI Online site is no picnic. The overall functionality even allows users to do things that the system should not enable because it’s not aligned with how things are supposed to be done.

The UX space needs a much bigger platform to change this trend. Or one big ole law suit.

Does your organization include a C-level focus on user experience? If not, you probably want to reconsider how all of your stakeholders are impacted. Because when it’s bad, it’s wicked bad. Thank you Laura Marcial for articulating this so well for the healthcare arena.

Don’t blame IT.

*Marcial, L. (2014). Usability in Healthcare: A ‘Wicked’ Problem. User Experience Magazine, 14(3).
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