Taking the Next Step in EHR UCD Research
A recent study by researchers at MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, published in JAMIA, reports how 11 electronic health records (EHR) systems vendors incorporate user-centered design (UCD) practices into their product development. Not surprisingly, the authors found a range of UCD approaches and sophistication, which they grouped into three categories: “well-developed”, “basic” and “misconceptions”. As reported in Health IT Analytics, “only four of the 11 vendors that participated in the study have a strong understanding of what it takes to create and implement user-centered software designs.”
While interesting, what the authors didn’t do in their study leaves the most important work ahead. They acknowledge this fact in their conclusion:
Importantly, the usability of the EHR itself was not examined; rather, our focus was on the integration of usability methods into the development process. An important next step will be to examine the usability of the EHR product to determine whether there is a relationship with the rigor of the UCD process being employed by the vendor.
Ultimately, EHR usability is what matters most. Talk to EHR users and they’ll gladly tell you how they’d like their system to work. This infographic lays out some of the keys.
From experience, much of it painful, users know the way EHRs should be. Vendors must figure out how to build their systems that way; sadly, many have not yet done so. Researchers can advance the cause of EHR usability by identifying the most effective ways for vendors to translate users’ clearly expressed wants and needs into deliverable capabilities – which will require evidence that correlates design methodology to real-world usability.