Understanding HCI

Scenario Example 1

Accessing Drug Information using a PDA

Please view the accompanying SCREEN LAYOUT when reading this scenario.

There has been a false fire alarm raised in the hospital on late Friday afternoon and by the time everything has returned to normal, Dr. Johnston - a male medical student who works in the Gastro-Intestinal (GI) unit finds that he is running thirty minutes behind schedule. Before the alarm was raised Dr. Cameron, the head of the unit had just prescribed a new medication (menafloxin) to Mrs. Duffy – a patient who is already taking three other drugs. Dr. Cameron who is just finishing her shift has asked Dr. Johnston to check in on Mrs. Duffy during his shift to see how she is doing.

Dr. Johnston arrives in the ward and Mrs. Duffy inquires, “Will there be any interactions with the medications Dr Johnston? Any side effects at all?” As Dr. Johnston is a young, medical student and still learning, he would normally have to leave the patient, find the single copy of the drug interaction book, which would regularly be in use by other students and flip through it until he found the relevant drug. This would obviously take a few minutes and was not very efficient if a doctor was already behind schedule. However, Dr. Johnston and a few other members of the team in the GI unit have just recently started using PDA’s as means of alleviating many of the problems that arise in the busy GI unit.

Dr. Johnston has only recently started using the PDA but finds it extremely helpful. On hearing Mrs. Duffy’s question regarding the drug interactions he retrieves the PDA from his lab coat pocket, inputs his password and quickly accesses the online drug database ‘MedCheck’. MedCheck opens within 5 seconds. Dr. Johnston chooses the patients surname from a drop down list. He then asks the patient her first name and date of birth. Submitting this information returns her records from the central database. Dr. Johnston selects the ‘Compatibility’ window. The patient’s current medication is shown. He then simply types “menafloxin” into the database ‘check against’ text box search facility using the external keyboard and clicks the ‘Check Drug Compatibility’ button (Fig a).

An intrusive alert returns the message ‘No compatibility problems have been found’ (Fig b). This is displayed on the screen within 5 seconds. Dr. Johnston reads the necessary details and lets Mrs. Duffy know that there will be no harmful side effects from the new medication.

By using the PDA instead of the drug interaction book, Dr. Johnston has saved an estimated 5 minutes which brings him a little closer to getting back on schedule. Consequently, not only has the PDA saved Dr. Johnston valuable time, but by accessing the powerful and up to date drug interaction information available on his PDA, Dr. Johnston may have saved Mrs Duffy from a possible adverse reaction.