Pills and Pill Bottle

Medication Lists

For our design innovation theme, I wanted to present an interesting idea called the Twinlist and open up the floor for some discussion of whether this approach is promising.

Comparing two long lists of any kind is always a challenge. For example, you may have experienced the difficulty of reconciling a bank or credit card statement when comparing the list with your personal tally of transactions. In healthcare the challenge is even more daunting when physicians have to maintain an up-to-date list of a patient’s medications, compare the medications taken at home with the ones taken during a hospital stay, and rapidly put together a new list.

The domain is to compare two lists of medications: for example the ones that the patient was given at the hospital and the ones she is prescribed to use at home. It is likely that the lists are very similar. But there will be differences. There will be meds that are no longer needed. There will be some added. And there will be some that are slightly different, for example a generic versus a branded version of the same compound. The patient is not going to be able to compare the two lists and figure out if they have the right ones. So the Twinlist is designed to help the provider verify that the meds the patient takes home are correct.

My Take

To be honest, this design approach opens more questions to me than it answers. The idea makes sense. It is easier to compare two lists (of any type) when they are presented in a side-by-side comparison table. If the design’s expert system can identify medications that do basically the same thing and automatically orders the lists so that they appear next to each other, it should make the lists easier to compare. It uses some classic UI techniques such as grouping, highlighting, and animation.

But could facilitating a quick scan create as many problems as it solves? One of the benefits of forcing the health care provider to review the list carefully is that it invokes System 2 processing. Could the twinlist design do more harm than good by converting it to a System 1 dominated process?

Your Turn

The basic idea behind the Twinlist is to make it easy to compare by using a side-by-side comparison table. Is this a good approach for the domain of medications? Please, have at it.

Image Credit: bigblockbobber

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