The Importance Of Usability In Healthcare Technology

Mike Butler | Hayes Management Consulting | July 22, 2013

Patients use technology to manage and coordinate their care now more than ever before. As Meaningful Use stages 2 and 3 approach, this will only increase. Patients will be using patient portals, for example, to glean information from their records and make informed decisions regarding their health. They will view, question and validate provider remarks, thus improving accuracy, awareness and patient /provider relationships.

Usability, or the software’s ease of use, will significantly impact an organization’s success with patient portal and EHR adoption. If healthcare information technology (HIT) systems are poorly designed, it may lead to user frustration, bad customer service and even medical errors. On the other hand, system functionality that is easy to learn, intuitive, flexible and efficient will improve the user experience and help prevent inaccuracies and medical errors. According to HIMSS, “usability is perhaps one of the most important factors hindering the adoption of EHRs.”[1] Therefore, it is crucial for healthcare organizations, with the help of HIM professionals, to develop and maintain the usability of new and current systems. The following are usability components that if done well, will help users adapt to and benefit from HIT: