In our first post, We're Here!, I thanked our early beta testers for helping us "iron out the wrinkles". Well, that's putting it extremely mildly. When we started, we didn't even know what we didn't know. In building Nota, there are four main areas where we work:
1. App development - building the database, programming the way the app works.
2. Design - visually designing the layout of the screens you see, the look and feel of Nota, the buttons, the interactive components.
3. The network - setting up the security and encryption of the servers where we host Nota.
4. Content - the information OTs need to see, how these elements rank in importance to each other, what things are referenced periodically.
There is a lot of detail which goes into each of these areas and they are all interrelated. As much importance as we have placed on getting the the technical details right, nothing else matters unless we understand what is most important to OTs to do their work. We have to define things which are essential, versus things which are nice to have, versus what is extraneous.
As we were building Nota, we heard from many OTs about how other companies were trying to position physician EMRs for OTs to use. The consequence of this is features and display components which were built for another purpose, and irrelevant to how an OT works.
Another major challenge is, we aren't OTs ourselves. We haven’t spend years learning and practicing the language, practicing writing goals, and all of the other things which OTs do every day. This meant we needed to come up a steep learning curve to truly understand how to solve a pain point without creating other problems.
Here is one of our early designs for the treatment note.
While we've come a long way in the overall design of Nota, the layout of the early screens is similar to how it looks today. However, we've come the farthest in terms of the actual requirements of OTs. Just looking at this screen, we were completely missing the specific components of a treatment note, the goals we were imagining were totally unrealistic, and we hadn't even considered the idea of sharing a note with a patient's family. It's a humbling moment when you've spent months of late nights and early mornings building something, excited to show off your hard work, only to hear someone you were ready to impress tell you 10 things you missed within in the first 5 seconds of looking at your work. This is exactly where our testers helped us understand the things we didn't even know we were missing, the things we knew, but didn't know their importance, and the things that didn't matter. As humbling as it may have been, this is exactly the experience we needed to go through to make sure we got to the core of what OTs need, without the clutter.
While we're extremely proud of what we have built, we also know there is more work ahead. As we continue to improve Nota, we're ready to have many more of the moments where we miss the mark, and need to hear what we've missed.
This post is intended to reveal some of the process we went through to build Nota, and educate ourselves, but also to say thank you to all of the OTs who were kind enough to spend time on the phone, in person, and in web meetings, looking critically at Nota for us, being honest with their feedback, and not telling us what we wanted to hear. Thank you for putting up with the crashes, unexpected login failures, data not saving, layout changes, and everything else you experienced with us. We know time with us was time away from something else in your lives and we appreciate it immensely. We could not have made it this far without your help.
No matter how well we understand a certain issue, we know we can't please everyone all the time. We have to have an opinion and need to make choices about how Nota works, how a process is designed, or which piece of data shows up on the screen with one tap, instead of three taps. When we make these choices, the commitment we're making is that we will learn as much as we can to identify the priorities of OTs and make what we think is the the best choice. Thanks to everyone who has joined us on this journey.