Transforming health care with UX design

May 12, 2022 / By Travis Bias, DO, MPH, FAAFP

Click to listen to the podcastIt is an honor to co-host the Inside Angle podcast alongside Dr. Melissa Clarke. In our first episode, we introduced ourselves to the Inside Angle community. And now, it is with great pleasure that I announce my first podcast guest: my dad!

Before I field accusations of nepotism, there is a clear intersection of our career paths that I hope will prove educational to our listeners. Remember “take your child to work day?” Well, today is “take your dad to work day;” one in which we get to record conversations we’ve been having almost my entire life.

Briefly, my dad – Dr. Randolph Bias – is a professor and usability consultant, and one of the OG’s of human-computer interface design, usability, or user experience (UX) as it’s called today. In 2017 he was recognized with the UX Professionals’ Association Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Growing up as a child – with a cognitive psychologist for a father and a social worker for a mother – we communicated the heck out of everything. And our discussions often focused on how certain designs were poorly thought out. The TV remote control. The car’s radio and CD changer. But dad’s experience goes beyond these basics, having worked for large software companies and web startups. For the last 20 years he’s taught his craft at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information, serving also as co-director of the school’s information eXperience Lab.

My daily work now builds upon a decade of work as a family medicine physician in multiple settings. I think regularly about how we can build and implement technologies to make the physician’s workday easier, primarily through facilitating more efficient work in the electronic health record (EHR).

It would not be challenging to find a health worker of any type who does not feel their technological tools serve them well as they care for patients. But, why is that? Is it the technological tool itself? Is it the EHR, or the intensive care unit pump, or the hospital communications app? And is it because those products were not created with end user input? Or is it because the end users or organizations in which these tools are deployed are not truly understood by the designers or implementers?

Well, the source of their frustration could be any of the above. And the health care sector has plenty to learn from other fields.

Join me and my father, as we discuss the importance – and return on investment – of strong human-centered design and teamwork. With a few professor jokes thrown in.

Dr. Travis Bias is a Family Medicine physician and Medical Director of Clinician Solutions at 3M Health Information Systems.