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01223 851273

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Clinical User Interfaces

PatientSource has a doctor-led team of software designers and software developers. We can help you design and develop safe, effective, extremely easy to use clinical user interfaces. Our Clinical Safety Officer can give your software product a full safety review, with recommendations and/or approval at the end.


Clinical User Interface Consulting

IT user interfaces built without proper clinician input are likely to be dangerous to patients and wasteful of staff time. Clinicians should be involved in the design and development of healthcare software from the start. PatientSource's design and development teams can help you assess your existing software user-interfaces for flaws to make them usable and safe. Our design teams can also help you create new easy-to-use, safe, clinical user interfaces.

Dr Michael Brooks writes:

"Let me tell you a story about when I was a junior doctor, when I first realised the criticality of properly designed Clinical User Interfaces.

In my first year as a doctor, I spent 4 months in oncology and haematology. Our patients were people suffering from solid cancers or blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma. They were at various stages through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These treatments hit your bone marrow hard, causing low red blood cell counts (anaemia) and low white blood cells counts (susceptibility to infections). It is quite common to give these patients blood transfusions to top up their red blood cells.

In that hospital, we had a new IT system for requesting blood bank tests and transfusion products. The system was horrible to use: it was a nasty grey Windows 95 style interface. Every time you clicked something, a popup dialog would appear somewhere else on the screen saying asking you to confirm things and stopping you from doing anything until you dismissed it.

One day, a colleague was clicking through to request two units of red blood cells for an anaemic patient of ours. This patient had a curable blood cancer called Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We navigated through the usual forest of dialog box popups. We selected "Packed Red Blood Cells", entered "2 units", stated the intended time of transfusion and clicked on the "Send request" button. Two hours later, the blood products arrived on the ward. The nurses duly checked our prescription patient started receiving the transfusion.

Shortly after our senior doctor came on the ward to do a routine ward round. We worked our way round to the patient who by this point was sitting on their bed in the bay with a now half-empty bag of blood dripping into their infusion line. The senior doctor glanced at the bag of blood and froze, then dashed over and shut off the infusion. Although the blood was the right ABO blood group, we had given the patient a potentially dangerous product: the blood was not irradiated blood, and for this type of patient there was a real risk of a fatal reaction called Transfusion-associated Graft versus Host Disease from the blood we had given. Fortunately the patient was unharmed. Had the transfusion not been stopped so early she would probably have died.

The cause of this nearly fatal error was the fact that the blood bank IT system's user interface had been built by computer programmers and had never been run past a doctor or nurse before being released. Apart from being horrible to use, it had one extremely critical flaw: it defaulted to an unsafe option. Buried down at the bottom of the IT interface was a section called "Special Requirements". It required you to click on an arrow to open up the options. Under here there were three radio buttons: "None", "Irradiated Blood" and "CMV Negative". "None" was selected by default, which means by default all Hodgkin's Lymphoma patients get non-irradiated blood unless the prescriber spots this hidden setting and amends it. Extremely dangerous!

The moral of the story: get a clinician involved with the design of your user interfaces right from the very start, otherwise people will die."

If you have a healthcare IT product in design, development or released to market and it hasn't been through proper development with clinician input, you are putting patients at risk and need to do something about this. Frontline staff won't use a system if it is perceived to be clunky, cumbersome or unsafe. It is not good enough just to pay a clinician to "rubber stamp" a software product at the end; the clinician needs to be experienced in software design and be involved from the start to direct the process.

PatientSource believes in clinician-led software design and we can help you design an outstanding, easy-to-use, safe, clinical IT system. Our software design and development teams are led by doctors and nurses who are involved throughout the design and development cycle. We have a doctor who is a certified Clinical Safety Officer who can review software, assess it for clinical safety and risk, and recommend design improvements. Our teams are available to help you with your IT solution. We can look at your solution, identify clinical safety flaws and usability problems and advise on how your software developers can put it right. We can also help you design new systems from scratch.


  • Turn dangerous and clunky clinical user interfaces into beautiful, safe, easy-to-use ones
  • Build new clinical user interfaces "the right way": safe, and effective
  • Get clear direction in how to design your healthcare IT solution
  • Gain recognised Clinical Safety Officer approval for your software product
  • Identify and eliminate patient safety risks in your software
  • Breeze through standards such as ISB0129, HIPAA and NHS CUI
  • Save lives with your software instead of harming patients


To find out how we can help you design and develop ideal clinical user interfaces :

Telephone: 01223 851273 
Arrange a no-obligation consultation