- Health IT infrastructure is constantly changing as IT staff build and deploy new health systems. While end-users may not always notice when their devices are running smoother or connecting faster, they will notice when things aren’t working the way they’re meant to.
End-user opinion on digital tools is often seen as the least important opinion when it comes to health IT. The executives that invest in digital tools, such as applications, often do so because they will produce an ROI. IT administrators often advocate for tools that will make health IT systems easier to manage, faster, and more secure.
While end-users want these things too, their priority is often tools that are intuitive, easy to use, and error free. IT administrators are often in agreement with this notion; however, they tend to be more concerned that a tool works effectively.
The most prominent example of end-user versus IT conflict is with applications. Clinician applications are often built and designed by developers who will never use the app in their daily workflow. Often organizations redesign desktop apps for mobile use and may not always know how the app is going to be used. Certain features that worked for the desktop app may not translate to a mobile device.
This may seem like a surface-level issue but ignoring app redesign requests from end-users can lead to the use of shadow IT and security breaches that can potentially impact the entire network.
Shadow IT is when users access PHI on an unauthorized personal device or a third-party application. Users may opt for third-party apps such as Dropbox and Google Drive if they are unhappy with the performance, layout, or apps provided by an organization.
Shadow IT can also harm a healthcare organization as a business. Organizations can end up wasting resources on an application that isn’t going to be used.
End-users don’t seek alternative tools to intentionally put data at risk and often don’t understand the risks of using unauthorized apps.
Many employees tend to view IT policies and procedures as barriers that block greater efficiency in the workplace, said Travelers VP and Chief Underwriting Officer Mike Thoma.
“Employees seek alternative workarounds unapproved or non-vetted software or develop independent programming,” said Thoma in a previous interview.
“Organizations need to understand why employees are using shadow IT and look for opportunities to help improve efficiency,” 2nd VP at Travelers Global Technology Kirstin Simonson advised. “Shadow IT can definitely have a negative consequence, but shadow IT can also have a positive impact.”
Listening to and understanding end-user needs can help developers identify app shortcomings that they may not have been aware of. Fixing workflow issues, redundancies, and glitches and listening to the end-user can help protect an organization against shadow IT.
Organizations can also take end-user involvement to another level by including them in the development process.
Low-code development platforms provide a customizable framework for apps to be built, essentially offering the developer a drag-and-drop interface to develop apps. Apps are developed at a much faster rate because they don’t need to be built from the ground up. This allows organizations to develop more apps and deploy them quickly.
Low-code and no-code application development platforms can give end-users the opportunity to design applications based on how they are actually used. A developer might not realize that certain functions need to be more accessible, but the clinician using the application will know what functions need to be prioritized.
Organizations can also redesign the same application and create different versions for different departments based on how each department uses the app.
These platforms can also be used with less oversight from developers. End-users can develop the front end of the app while developers focus on the backend to make sure everything functions properly.
While it’s important that health IT tools function and are secure, it’s also important that they are useable. Involving end-users in the selection and development of their own tools can help create better applications as well as protect organizations from unauthorized tools.