Date Uniformity in Placement & Sequencing • A Heartfelt & Rational Request re Electronic Health Forms — and Forms in General!

Date Uniformity in Placement & Sequencing • A Heartfelt & Rational Request re Electronic Health Forms — and Forms in General!
Peter DuMont - Tue Dec 29, 2015 @ 02:48AM
Comments: 7

Editor's note: These comments on the importance of standard date placements on forms, and date sequencing formats, were originally posted to (with host Michael Krasny), stimulated by a show about electronic health records and related topics entitled: UCSF's Robert Wachter Explores the 'Hope, Hype and Harm' of Health Care's Digital Transformation

The original radio show link is:

Here is my comment, with some new edits here.



Please ask those who design electronic health records and other forms generally: as much as possible, on balance with "harmonious diversity:" to adopt universal protocols for placement of key items like, for example, not only the patient's name (This is almost always in the upper left corner of a record already), but for goodness' sake: in addition to the patient's birthdate, also: THE DATE OF THE RECORD, on ALL record entries.

To use this example: if the date, which importantly "pegs" a record in time, were ALWAYS placed in the upper right hand corner (in addition to any signature-line dates at the bottom, for example) — literally "uni-form" on everyone's forms! — this will have the effect of saving ENORMOUS cumulative little bits of human time and attention searching for these key indicators in the maze of information on each new or different form. Get it?? This is important!

The same principle applies, I'm sure, to many other "bits" of information and human time spent searching for them on a display; in the case of health information: Social Security or other identifying numbers, today's blood pressure, oxygen saturation or whatever.

There is an important place for universality as a guiding principle, and the physical arrangement of key information on any medical form is one of them.

Designers; policy councils: Please do your job with this principle in mind! It's never too late to make doable, incremental if not wholesale changes; and the industry is still young. It would be highly efficient to get this important trend going toward the beginning of its evolution.

ON DATE SEQUENCING: Speaking of uniformity and dates: Whether for medical or any other kind of records, not only the placement but the logical sequencing of dates should be one thing that is uni-form throughout the world. Can we please adopt the new universal dating sequence protocol, along with much of the rest of the world already?

ALL date notations should be arranged logically, starting from the big picture at the left and gong in one direction only toward greater detail.  FIRST comes the biggest view: the year (with all four digits showing, please. Especially during the transition, this will alert everyone automatically: the new standard is being used.) 

Following the year, the next logical step "down" into detail is the month, and then the day. When applicable: the hour (smaller still) can follow, then the minute, second, and when applicable, smaller increments on down to microseconds (millionths) and even nanoseconds (billionths) these days in the case of precision tech and scientific applications.

The public is smarter than many think. They will catch on quickly if the logic is explained as I have just done here. Public service announcements with graphics on the Internet and other media will be helpful.

Delaying conversion to the inevitable, logical, universal dating standard — not to speak of consistent placement of dates on the myriad forms we must all attend to — especially when converting a whole industry such as health records to a new electronic format anyway — seems inexcusably lacking in courage, common sense, and economy. 

As my good father, a naval architect and marine engineer used to say: [Let's] "Sharpen up!" 

I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence here or minimize the inevitable challenges of change; only to point out the obvious advantage of getting on with it!  The human time now wasted figuring out different mazes all the time can never be replaced. 

But to quote the late R. Peaslee DuMont once again: "The obvious is only obvious to him to whom it is obvious!" For those who see things with excellent clarity in any given field: let's share the wealth by offering an explanation to the public and policy-makers, and then act on our own at once wherever feasible, such as — in the case of dates — in composing our letters, to help make the change.

I apologize that the date sequencing on this blog's titling does not follow the new format...yet.  I hope the proper people at Doodlekit, which makes (and contributes) the software, and which provides it to us for free (for which both we are most grateful) will take note.

Comments: 7


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