Test Drive: A more standardized, contemporary and intuitive user experience for clinical systems

Bill Crounse 2007 01

My team in the UK has just released the latest update to our Common User Interface initiative.  If you’ve never taken the CUI for a test drive, you are in for a treat.  Just visit the Patient Journey Demonstrator to experience for yourself what happens when a large team of clinicians and software developers work collaboratively to design a better, more standardized front end to clinical systems.image


Why is this such a big deal for clinicians?  Let me use an example from my own  back yard.  Like most metropolitan areas, the Puget Sound region has many hospitals and health systems.  Over the course of my own career, I have worked at three of them.  Many of our community based physicians and particularly the specialists find themselves serving on the staff of more than one hospital.  For instance, I might live in Bellevue and be on staff at the hospital there but I might also be on staff at the hospital just up the road in Kirkland.  In fact, those two hospitals share about 50 percent of their medical staff.  I might also drive South to Renton now and then to see patients in that community’s hospital.  In addition, I might call on hospitalized patients in downtown Seattle.  Guess what?  In each of those facilities, I will encounter a completely different hospital information system.  Consider also the plight of registry nursing staff or other locums workers who travel between all the hospitals and clinics in town.  There again, they likely will encounter a completely different electronic record system in each institution.

I think doctors and nurses are very smart people, but how can they become competent on that many different systems?  How can we expect them to do their work so many different ways and worse yet, how might this compromise patient safety?  Is it any wonder that community physicians simply fold their arms and say “no” to using this dog’s breakfast of systems?


We need a more standardized, and certainly more contemporary user interface to clinical systems.  A doctor or nurse the world over should simply be able to move from one hospital or clinic to another and use the electronic record system to do their work without additional training.  After all, the practice of medicine is pretty much the same everywhere.  Why are we clinicians asked to perform and document our work so many different ways on so many different systems?


We are making the CUI development tools and controls freely available to software developers around the world.  You can visit www.mscui.net to learn more.  See for yourself some of the most contemporary thinking in user interface design.  Demand more from your vendors!

I believe we will never succeed in getting all clinicians off of paper until we have reached alignment on a universal yet highly flexible, more contemporary and intuitive front end to clinical systems.  Fellow clinicians, unite!

Bill Crounse, MD  Senior Director, Worldwide Health   Microsoft Corporation 


For those of you who are more technical and want to dive deeper, here is additional information on the latest release of the CUI.

V1.5 of the Microsoft Health Common User Interface (MSCUI) has been released to the web on www.mscui.net and http://www.codeplex.com/mscui.

MSCUI provides User Interface Design Guidance and Toolkit controls that address a wide range of patient safety concerns for healthcare organizations worldwide, allowing a new generation of safer, more usable and compelling health applications to be quickly and easily created.

This offering is aimed at user interface designers, application developers and patient safety experts who want to find out more about the benefits of a standardized approach to user interface design.

This is the fifth release of MSCUI since we launched in July 2007. In that time we have seen over 285,000 unique visitors to the site, 24,000 downloads of the Design Guidance and 14,000 downloads of the Toolkit.

There are 4 key elements to this new release:

  1. Publication of new and updated Design Guidance:

    1. New Micro Patient Banner guidance

    2. New Displaying Graphs and Tables guidance

    3. Updated Time Display guidance

    4. Updated Date and Time Input guidance

  2. Publication of 6 new Controls for Silverlight 2 and WPF:

    1. New Silverlight and WPF PatientBanner controls

    2. New Silverlight and WPF AddressLabel controls

    3. New Silverlight and WPF ContactLabel controls

    4. New Silverlight and WPF GenderLabel controls

    5. New Silverlight and WPF IdentifierLabel controls

    6. New Silverlight and WPF NameLabel controls

  3. Updates to the award winning Patient Journey Demonstrator which showcases CUI design guidelines, controls and future UI concepts in a Silverlight 2 application.

  4. Publication of our new Team Blog, where we will be communicating on a wide range of topics.

Comments (3)

  1. Dictation services for Radiology with the integration of the two services.  More about the hospital

  2. Bill –

    Nice work.  I worked on the ONCHIT integration projects and what a bear to get this stuff to work correctly, and to get users to engage with it is even harder.  The screen shots look like they have been done really well.  

    Nowell Outlaw


    FacetoFace Health

  3. This is a great article and good comments from Dr. Bill Crounse at Microsoft. from ABC News.   If

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