School-based Electronic Health Record Receives User-Centered Redesign

Health eTools, an electronic health record created for school nurses, recently went through a redesign process that enhanced how easily nurses can manage student-patient data and interactions while meeting regulatory and compliance rules.

SDLC Partners, a Pittsburgh-based technology and business consultancy, created new product requirements and redesigned the application based on their double-diamond human-centered design (HCD) process (see Figure 1).

The HCD process involved an inter-disciplinary team from SDLC Partners who travelled across Pennsylvania to observe nurses in their schools to better understand their users’ goals and workflow requirements for enhancing the Health eTools application.

“We were amazed to see just how busy school nurses are, addressing the needs of nearly 30 students an hour or more. Because they manage a variety of medication, illness, and injury needs throughout the day, they need a system that allows them to fully trust digital technologies rather than rely on paper-based tools that require hours of data entry, as well as balance between compliance requirements and seamless workflow,” said Jonathan Brown, Digital Architect and Senior Subject Matter Expert, SDLC Partners.

SDLC Partners gathered first-hand observations of how school nurses use technology alongside how they manage data, their workflow, as well as interact with students.

Ethnographic interviews yielded patterns of communication and behavior, and revealed feature requirements that helped SDLC Partners redesign the Health eTools functionality:

  • The pace of walk-ins can be frantic, making immediate data entry difficult.
  • Nurses work away from the desktop much of the time, requiring a tool that can work on the fly.
  • Features that cause a nurse to question themselves bogs down productivity and causes unnecessary distractions.
  • Features need to more closely fit the flow, speed, and location of care interactions.

These observed and expressed needs helped the SDLC Partners team create two school nurse user personas that provided a precise way of thinking and communicating how users behave, how they think, what they wish to accomplish, and why.

As Lisa J. Miller, RN, CSN, BS, MS, school nurse for Greater Johnstown Elementary School expressed, “Health eTools has eliminated the days of using pen and paper to tabulate the SHARRs report data. I love the documentation in Health eTools. I can review student visits with parents and doctors to help diagnose problems or identify concerns. Health eTools makes immunization compliance a cinch. All the information is at my fingertips. “

“Together, Health eTools and SDLC Partners helped advance our school-based platform to be the fastest, friendliest school EMR on the market, empowering school nurses to focus on care and the needs of their student-patients.

In fact, we heard that school nurses are citing significant time savings with one sharing that she is saving about one hour at the end of every day and 16 hours at the end of the year when she tabulates reporting data,” said Cathy Hanson, Vice President of Strategy, Health eTools.

The latest version of Health eTools features a new CDC-compliant Immunization Tracker, a Guardian / Parent portal, and single sign-in. Nurses are now able to satisfy Pennsylvania state-mandated reporting requirements and generate a variety of required reports.

SDLC’s Double Diamond Design Process
Figure 1: SDLC Partners double-diamond human-centered design process

About SDLC Partners, L.P.

SDLC Partners, L.P. is an essential leader of the Pittsburgh technology and business ecosystem. As a consultancy focused on delivering high-performance solutions for connecting business and technology, they have grown into a 400-person firm, garnering

awards and attention from the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the Inc. 5000, the Pittsburgh 100, and E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

About Health eTools

Serving more than 500 schools across the county, Health eTools is an electronic health records system designed specifically for school nurses. It works in conjunction with a school district’s existing Student Information System to help school nurses confidentially track, manage and report on the health of their student population.

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