Simple Saves Lives

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” That quote is usually ascribed to Mark Twain (even if Blaise Pascal was the original source.) But the sentiment is what’s important. Making something simple is really time-consuming.

For example, take this blog post. Early versions, I guarantee you, were rambling and complicated. My hope is that by the time this reaches your screen, it’s more concise and to the point.

Physical objects aren’t all that different. Making a simple, clear interface takes an extraordinary amount of design expertise, patience, and user testing. When we chose our company motto of “Simple Saves Lives” it wasn’t because we thought making things simple would be quick or easy. It’s because we thought making things simple would be better -- for patients, clinicians, and health outcomes.

So many things in healthcare are complex. Sometimes we think complexity equals sophistication. If a technology is hard to use, it must be because it’s doing important things. If a billing system is byzantine, it must be because it is carefully considering all options. But that’s not necessarily true.

We see this often other technology industries, like consumer electronics. When Apple introduced the ipod, mp3 players had been on the market for years. But Apple made mp3 players easy to use and changed what people expected from a music player. Android and iPhones weren’t the first smartphones, but they brought simple design to the pocket computer and changed how people communicate as well as wayfind, shop, and do pretty much everything.

This can happen in healthcare, too. We need simplicity -- not of function, but of form. We need sophisticated devices that are simple to use. That’s the key to increasing patient safety and reducing healthcare costs. Imagine how much money we could save if we reduced training time, increased interoperability, and extended the product lifetime of medtech. Simple saves money, as well as lives.

When we developed our DripAssist product to monitor gravity infusions, we faced a fair amount of skepticism. My favorite response was what we heard from Josie Stone, an expert in infusion nursing and product development. “When someone first told me about it, I thought, oh, that sound like some piece of technology from the 1970s” she said. “But then I was able to hold it in my hands and I realized what a modern and very ergonomically designed device it is!”

I like to refer to DripAssist as ‘deceptively simple.’ It looks like a basic tool, but there is a tremendous amount of patience, user testing, and design expertise baked into that 3.8 oz device.

The “wow!” we regularly get from clinicians is the “wow” we think healthcare needs more of if we’re ever going to reduce costs. It’s the “wow” of ‘hey this is easy to use!’ and ‘this solves a problem I didn’t even know I had,’ and ‘this thing makes my day easier!’

Plainly put, we need simple. In our electronic medical records, our insurance plans, and our devices. If we all take the time to write shorter letters, we can change the industry together.

See our White Paper 'Managing the Dynamic Systems of Gravity Infusion' here.

Beth Kolko

Co-founder & CEO