"If we succeed in supporting them in their daily work they will accept our products."Matthias Meierhofer is managing director of MEIERHOFER AG.MEIERHOFER AG

(HealthTech Wire / Interview) - IT systems can considerably lighten the workload of hospital staff. Why is it then that many customers are not entirely happy with their systems? For Matthias Meierhofer of MEIERHOFER AG the answer to this questions is closer to the user and in his opinion the onus is on the IT providers to make sure that their systems are aligned with the users needs.

Physicians and nursing staff alike ache under the burden of ever increasing documentation requirements which leave less and less time to care for more and more patients. Often enough they vent their frustration by blaming the hospital IT system which allegedly eats up too much time. Is that simply unavoidable?

Here, we as healthcare IT providers indeed do have a problem. Recently, the industry association bvitg looked at user satisfaction and found out that a significant number of physicians and nursing staff are unhappy with the IT solutions they have to use in their daily work. User satisfaction surveys by different manufacturers corroborate this evidence. Albeit nobody likes to discuss these results publicly.

Why is that?

In my opinion because the problem is home-made by us, the IT providers. Very often we lose focus on the end-customer the user. And to be sure: the user is not the head of the IT department, they usually have no problem with the systems. I am talking about the users down the line, the hospital administration staff, the physicians, the nurses. We have to get closer to these user groups. If we succeed in supporting them in their daily work they will accept our products.

How can you do that?

There are several aspects. A major issue no doubt is usability. We can only realize usability when we watch the users, look over their shoulder. Literally: if you want software to be faster and to eliminate superfluous steps you have to be close to the clinical processes. It is therefore MEIERHOFER company policy for every member of the software development team to work in a hospital a certain amount of time every year, not in the IT department but out in the field so to speak: on the wards and in the departments. That is not easy to organize and quite a culture shock for many of our colleagues. But I am convinced that in the end it improves usability.

But this alone wont suffice, will it?

It is one piece of the puzzle. Another important factor which is standard operating procedure in our company is product validation by the client. This includes a review twelve weeks after project implementation. We do not sell a one-size-fits-all product but a highly customized one. Therefore we have to have a fresh look at the solution after some time.

Which role does the actual content of the software play in terms of customer satisfaction?

Obviously, we must not neglect content. Multi-lingual capabilities can be a decisive acceptance factor in certain hospitals. Role-specific user interfaces can also improve customer satisfaction. This is for example important for nurses. When as a nurse you have to document a nursing event you dont want to be bothered with reams of documents which dont concern you. Thats just confusing. Another clinical process we have fine-tuned in our MCC in cooperation with nursing staff is medication. At conhIT 2014 visitors are very welcome at our booth to have a first-hand look at these aspects of our product.

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HIMSS Europe

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