I am working on a web based application for hospitals. When the first user creates an account, we ask for:

  • hospital name
  • email address
  • password

Once logged, a user can create logins for others users, some of which may not have an email address, so when logging in we ask for:

  • hospital name
  • email or username
  • password

We need the hospital name so we can have the username jdoe or jsmith at two different hospitals. We considered unique username but jdoe121 could make the system hard to use. I can see some having trouble entering the hospital name as "Royal Victoria Hospital" may be entered as "Victoria Royal" etc., depending on how people know it.

What would be the best way to simplify this logon and allow emails and usernames?

  • 2
    A user could be served by several hospitals, so the constraint of unique user name for each hospital could break a real life scenario, i.e. jdoe101 and doe200 is the same user for different hospitals. Have you considered this? Sep 16, 2013 at 19:23
  • Are there people without email addresses anymore? If a user has access to the internet, there's little reason to expect that they don't have an email address (especially if you consider that ~90% of registration forms require a valid email address for account verification purposes). Email addresses are inherently unique.
    – cimmanon
    Sep 19, 2013 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


I work on a system that uses this same pattern. The system asks for three things at login: the username, password, and profile ID. The last bit is unique to the user (you can input an email address or a string of your own choosing); the first two data points are shared across all users at that installation.

After the initial login, the common data is stored so the user only has to enter their profile ID.

They can elect to save their profile ID, too, to streamline subsequent logins.

I use the software, and have saved all, so login is two clicks.


Users entering a wrong hospital name is known as a problem of quality; these are solved by applying input constraints, such as having users to choose a hospital from a drop down list (recognition vs recall), or an editable drop-down field that forces selection with advance search (so typing victoria, will show all the hospital with victoria in them; same as entering saint or st in an online train service shows all valid stations with either terms).

But I can think of a far more elegant solution than the one you propose:

  • dump the hospital name.
  • issue each user with a unique registration code (or alternatively a temporal username or username/password combo).
  • Upon first login allow users to choose their username and password. Mark the username field unavailable if any user in any other hospital has already picked it up.

I assume you will allow users to change password (and if you don't plan doing so, you should). So why not allow users pick their user name? TheGun, TonyBlair, BestNurseEvenr, Whatever - users are far more likely to remember their usernames if they get to pick them. It also adds an element of fun to the system - my user name is 'TheGun', rather than 'jsmith'.

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