How a design system lays the foundation for a better user experience

September 13, 2022 |  C-level, Health IT, Transformative Technology


When organizations are creating a new solution, one of the main things they focus on is how to create a consistent and user-friendly experience. Code and feature functions are important, but it doesn’t equal success if you can’t see things from the end user point of view. 

Using a design system gives development teams a detailed reference to ensure that all design solutions are immediately recognizable, and have a consistent look and feel. A successful design system is a shared, evidence-based design language that empowers developers to make better design decisions around the user interface.

A design system is defined as: “A versatile reference, composed of reusable components, interface elements, and other instructional materials, that aim to simplify and support the creation of consistent digital user experiences.” 

When MEDITECH created our design system, Atrium, our goal was to provide a centralized, systematic process that assists our product development teams. This allows us to deliver: 

  • A consistent approach to prototyping and design.
  • Centralized components and technical documentation supporting usable, accessible, and performant code.
  • Design solutions supported by evidence-based research.

The mission statement behind Atrium is to cultivate a community-driven, dependable system of design inspired by the following core principles:

  • Intuitive: A clear and concise guide, driven by research and collaboration, that supports a consistent user experience.
  • Innovative: A platform that inspires growth, embraces change, and provides an artistically-crafted user experience.
  • Inclusive: An accessible, dynamic common ground, where staff can come together to cultivate, communicate, and collaborate.

To develop Atrium, we began by establishing a committee drawn from our company’s EHR software development teams. Having a formal committee helped to create the momentum and enthusiasm that ultimately led to creating a new dedicated design system team here at MEDITECH. 

We purposefully balanced the new design system team with a content strategist, UX and graphic designers, as well as software designers, with the shared passion for helping MEDITECH achieve our vision. Today, this team is responsible for delivering on our vision of an exceptional user experience through providing healthcare organizations products that are simple, efficient, and intuitive.

Atrium is the heart of our product development, acting as the single source of truth for our user interface design. The design system helps us innovate, tackle complex usability problems with confidence, and improve the daily lives of all our customers by offering a more cohesive and user-friendly experience across all of our Expanse products. We are proud of the fact that Atrium allows our teams to create exceptional, cohesive, and innovative healthcare solutions for all MEDITECH users.

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Written by Greg Leach, Associate Vice President, Product Development, MEDITECH

An exceptional leader who inspires innovation and quality, Greg Leach is the associate vice president responsible for MEDITECH’s Patient Accounting, Administrative, Financial, Patient Engagement, Population Health, and Home Care products. In addition, he leads MEDITECH’s User Experience and Usability team, which is responsible for encouraging and facilitating user-centered design and user feedback in our product development process. After graduating from Wheaton College (Norton, MA) in 1993, Mr. Leach joined MEDITECH as an implementation programmer. Since then, he has supported clinical applications, worked in the HCA service group, built a team to tackle updates, and managed HCIS coordinators. After joining Product Development in 2000, he extended his range to include Data Repository, Billing, Financials, Medical Records, EMR, Scanning and Archiving, MIS, and more. He was also heavily involved in the groundbreaking Expanse Ambulatory product. Mr. Leach enjoys spending time with his wife, Michele, and their two daughters. They spend their free time supporting community theater and the performing arts, traveling, and skiing.