Hospitals and video games

October 07, 2018

I had to go to the hospital today for some pre-travel vaccinations.

Every time I go to the hospital, or any medical facility, I think about usability. I'm fortunate enough not to spend much time in the hospital, so it's always a beginner experience when I do. Typically, I stumble around like an idiot trying to find the right floor, and that's assuming I'm even in the right building (not a given).

Whenever I get lost in a hospital, I think of how it's the opposite of a video game.

Nobody likes going to the hospital; we go there because we need something, often quite badly. But a hospital visit is a purely instrumental task: there is a because.

Video games have no becauseβ€”in fact, many people wish they could play less of them, but they're so darn fun. Without any "purpose", they are the ultimate test of usability: is this so fun, I would waste time playing it? That's a really high bar.

A corollary might be that if you have something people need, your users/customers will put up with a lot of nonsense to get it.

But there are few things we need as badly as what's in a hospital, forcing most of us to do better that medical facilities, usability-wise.

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