During our user research, we were amazed by the complexity of the technologies available to our users. The pharmacy we interviewed for example used a cashing machine that displayed inventory and was able to place orders at suppliers when necessary. It could display information about application and side-effects of the medicine being sold and could even display interactions between multiple prescriptions. The pharmacy was also in the process of installing a complex sorting machine which would sort their inventory automatically, a process which previously required hours of work by hand.
The treatment center for adolescent addicts had similar advanced data processing technology. Every patient had an electronic patient record in which every session with a therapist was quantifiably recorded. Users were also able to create complex statistics with simple clicks, making it possible to identify new trends in adolescents easily. We were also told that doctors have access to similar patient records utilities.
So we were put to the difficult task of developing a concept for these arguably very efficient workplaces. Their use of sophisticated data management utilities made it a difficult task to identify a footing on which to base our concept on. How do you find the missing link when there is none?
And the missing link was exactly the answer we were looking for. See, both the pharmacy and the treatment center had access to vast quantities of data, yet there was little to no information exchange between pharmacies, doctors and the treatment center for addicts. This lack of exchange is what we based our concept on.
We propose The Electronic Prescription: Presto, or “Das Elektronische Rezept: Presto”, DERP.
This concept proposes replacing the physical prescription with an electronic one instead. Doctors will only need to register prescriptions to their patients’ record instead of issuing a physical prescription. The patients can then get their prescriptions at pharmacies electronically (since medical insurance is mandatory in Germany, we propose using the insurance card for identification, eliminating the need to carry an additional form of identification).
From the get go, this approach already poses valuable benefits. Issuing prescriptions electronically rather than physically makes forgery much more difficult. It also significantly improves workflow for every instance involved, since record keeping will work automatically, in contrast with the current approach, where the physical prescriptions need to be saved for records.
But the system could benefit more from even further information exchange. Imagine for example, if a doctor could check if an unusual treatment is available at your local pharmacy, by checking their inventory, all within the same system they’d use to issue said treatment? He could also put reservations on prescriptions, so the sorting machine could have your shopping ready, before you even left the doctor’s office. And if you regularly need to take medicine, there’s no need to visit the doctor’s office to refresh your prescription – the doctor could issue the prescription over a phone call.
All these ideas were intriguing enough for us to pursue them further and in detail. The next week will be spent identifying and working out the touch points and making a video prototype ready for the final presentation.
See you there!