There are 315 million “patients” in America, and only 1 million physicians. Keeping track of their histories is a gargantuan task, and many doctors have turned to the Electronic Medical Record, a computerized list of everything from allergies to addresses, to keep up. But despite being a huge improvement from paper records, the EMR is in desperate need of a graphic and technological overhaul. Doctors often don’t have time to sift through dozens of printouts before they see a patient, and even if they do, the record might not be comprehensive or up to date.
So what does the future of the patient record look like? The winning design, Nightingale, was devised by Amy Guterman, Stephen Menton, Defne Civelekoglu, Kunal Bhat, Amy Seng, and Justin Rheinfrank, a team of designers and strategists who work together at Chicago consultancy gravitytank. Their scheme imagines a responsive record that can act like a dashboard, letting doctors view patients holistically and track results and prescriptions in real-time. Patients can use Nightingale as a mobile or web app, a kind of “guardian” that lets them keep track of the day’s medications or updates them with symptoms to look out for. The idea is to leverage the EMR as a tool to actually improve the quality of care, not just the clarity or visual beauty of the information. “Nightingale stood out because they defined the problem with the current medical record really well,” Blumenfeld says. “It’s not just that it’s poor visual design but basically that these records have data in them that could allow us to improve our health if used correctly.”