Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Road signs for physicians

New icons for medical community ...

"According to BioMed Central, French researchers have developed a new iconic drug information system inspired by road signs. This icon system is named VCM, short for 'Visualisation des Connaissances Médicales' in French, which means 'Visualization of Medical Knowledge.' Like road signs, the VCM graphical language uses a small set of graphical signs. The current dictionary contains about 130 pictograms displayed in 5 colors. For example, current conditions of a patient are shown as red icons while risks of future conditions are orange. The physicians who tested the system learned it in a couple of hours and think this system will reduce the number of errors in drug prescriptions. But read more...

You can see on the left some examples of VCM icons for main tests to prescribe. (Credit: Jean-Baptiste Lamy, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris) By the way, Jean-Baptiste Lamy's home page is very interesting if you enjoy games and free software.

The short BioMed Central news release doesn't carry much more information. So let's turn to an article published by MedPage Today, "Graphical Medical Language Aims to Reduce Prescription Errors." It tells us that the French researchers "essentially reduced a package insert and patient records to 103 central pictograms, 20 external shapes and shape modifiers, five colors, and eight top-right pictograms.

Todd Neale, the author, gives additional details about the iconic system. "The icons represent diseases, symptoms, physiological states, life habits, drugs, and tests. The central pictogram in each icon represents the anatomical or functional location of a condition or the disease a drug can treat. For example, a heart shape signifies cardiovascular diseases. The external shape distinguishes a patient's state: a circle is normal and a square or modified square is some pathological state. For instance, inflammation is denoted by flames at the top of the icon. Antecedent states are colored brown, current conditions are red, and risks of future conditions are orange."    (Continued via Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends)    [Usability Resources]

New Icons - Usability, User Interface Design

New Icons

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