May 11, 2022

3

mins read

Product Clinic #3: Embedding software engineering efficiency hacks into our clinical trial platform

At Lindus Health we optimise for the experience of our trial managers and participants when using our end-to-end clinical trial software to be as easy and efficient as possible. We achieve this by empowering them as part of the product development cycle (as well as taking inspiration for efficiency hacks from the world of software engineering).


Why empowering users matters

If you've spent some time in software engineering circles, you may be familiar with the Editor War. The Editor War is the (sometimes humorously hyperbolic, but nonetheless fierce) rivalry between two warring camps of coders over which code editor they prefer: Emacs or Vim. What's the war about? Ease of use and efficiency.

These two editors are not, in fact, the only options. They are part of a rich ecosystem of “integrated development environments” which enable engineers to be as effective as possible by autocompleting/formatting code, constantly running tests and checks, and providing a rich suite of keyboard shortcuts so we don't even have to waste time reaching for our mouse! Some engineers are very passionate about their editor because any alternative would require pressing one more key to do a common workflow.

So why are engineers so obsessed with working efficiently?

Well, I don't think engineers are special. Everyone wants their software to be efficient and easy to use. The difference is engineers are both the users and creators of their tools. They are empowered to make improvements. If an engineer is frustrated by a cumbersome or laborious workflow, they can set out to build a solution that takes as few clicks as possible and share it with the rest of the coding community. And they often do.

Not all software users benefit from this virtuous cycle of tweaks and improvements, however. The result? Clunky, out of date software that feels more antagonistic than helpful.


Our approach

At Lindus Health we build better products by empowering our users. We do this in three ways.


1: Taking inspiration from the engineering world

The efficiency innovations that have come out of the world of engineering are not reserved for engineers! As users of these tools, we can find similarities between the workflows of engineers and trial staff and introduce new intuitive user experience patterns to save clinicians time and let them focus on what matters: their patients.

Most recently, we realised that clinicians switching between participants’ information in our trial platform, Citrus, mimicked the engineering workflow of switching between files while coding. We took inspiration from how our code editors enable us to do this quickly and devised a way to allow this switching in just one click!


2: We “eat our own dogfood”

We know that participating in a trial can be… interesting. We want to ensure that participants in our trials always have the best experience possible.

“Dogfooding”, as it’s commonly known in tech, is the practice of using your own software to understand how it performs in the real world and catch any issues. It’s an important tool we use at Lindus Health to gain insight into (and improve) the experience of the participants in our trails.

We frequently run internal mock trials and, thanks to the easy configurability of our Citrus platform, we even use our own Electronic Data Capture (EDC) software to run internal polls to decide things such as where our next team event will be! (A team baking competition won, for those wondering).

3: Clinical operations is a core part of our product lifecycle

Lindus Health is unique in that we have in-house clinical operations specialists sitting alongside engineers. Our product manager, Nijat, went over in detail how we leverage this in the previous product clinic: Using feedback loops to build better products.

Conclusion

At Lindus Health, we’ve made it our mission to build fast, easy to use clinical trial software. In previous editions of Product Clinic, we’ve talked about how our technology and product development cycle enable that. Empowering users is another part of our development ethos that enables us to create the most efficient tools possible, and ultimately make clinical trials easy!

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