Editor's Note: Driving Workflow

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Within media, there is a key concept called information design. This combines the art and science of preparing information so it is effectively and efficiently used by human beings. The idea grew out of the graphic design field and is broadly purposed to display information effectively, but also includes a certain responsibility of the content and language. It is the full “picture” of the words, type, photos, graphics and sequencing that communicate the intended message to the viewer.

Good information design allows you to navigate one website quickly, easily harvest information and realize later that far more time has passed than you had thought; while bad design makes your visit to a site frustrating, fruitless and often, short.

It seems to me that clinical informatics is entering its information design stage, with systems designed around these concepts now in development and in use by physicians, informaticists and administrators.

Tools and software such as advanced visualization and computer-assisted detection focused on better visualization of human anatomy are constantly being improved, the objective being to differentiate normal and diseased tissue. But far beyond that, digital dashboards, clinical decision support and workflow tools are allowing clearer messages among physicians and administrators, unambiguous and understandable. New systems are beginning to provide “just enough” of the clinical information needs of the radiologist, for example patient history, relevant labs, meds, pathology reports and prior studies. Turn-around times drop when information efficiency rules, as do interruptions. Communicate and document is the mantra.

Information visualization is creating graphic displays that turn data into lucid information—and knowledge visualization aims to communicate that knowledge. This is the next step in clinical IT.

Like excellent medical care, information design is a team concept. It takes a team to create the message and another team to effectively execute it—one patient at a time.