Electronic Health Record Usability Where Art Thou?

Cliff Freeman | LinkedIn | July 11, 2017

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.” – Prince Pal

I like to begin my articles with a little humor…no matter how little the humor. I am sure many in the User Interface community might find this joke hilarious. Not so much if you are a physician using an electronic health record (EHR) that does not provide good usability. Lack of EHR usability is one of the biggest complaints clinicians have with some currently available EHRs.

Cliff FreemanWhat is usability? The International Standards Organization defines usability as, “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”  In his 2014 article, “Usability of EHRs Remains a Priority for ONC,” Jacob Reider, M.D., Deputy National Coordinator, describes usability as, “…easy to use and effective. It is intuitive, forgiving of mistakes and allows one to perform necessary task quickly, efficient and with a minimum of mental effort.”

So what are some of the pain points associated with EHRs that make them not user friendly? IDC Health completed a survey in 2013 to identify frequent causes of clinician EHR dissatisfaction. Of the seven dissatisfiers identified, four were associated with usability. These were...