NIST releases technical guidance for evaluating electronic health records

Mar 21, 2012 By Jennifer Huergo

An important aspect of any product is how easily someone can use it for its intended purpose, also known as usability. Electronic health records (EHR) that are usable have the potential to improve patient care, which is why the National Institute of Standards and Technology has outlined formal procedures for evaluating the usability of EHR systems.

The proposed usability protocol encourages a user-centered approach to the development of EHR systems. It provides methods to measure and address critical errors in user performance before those systems are deployed in a medical setting.

“This guidance can be a useful tool for EHR developers to demonstrate that their systems don’t lead to use errors or user errors,” said NIST researcher Matt Quinn. “It will provide a way for developers and evaluators to objectively assess how easy their EHR systems are to learn and operate, while maximizing efficiency.”

The protocol is a three-step process consisting of an analysis of how the application functions, expert review, and validation testing of the user interface to make sure it works as intended.

The includes general steps and guidance for evaluating an EHR user interface from a clinical perspective—does it contain, collect and display the information it needs to—and human factors perspectives—can the user understand it and easily find needed information. The interface is then tested by representative user groups performing realistic tasks.

“We hope this encourages system developers to apply human factors best practices and incorporate user-centered design processes,” said Quinn. “These practices and processes have proven records in industries such as aviation, military systems, transportation, nuclear power, and others where safety is a concern.”

Explore further: Thanksgiving travel woes? There's an app for that

More information: The EHR Usability Evaluation Protocol (EUP), Technical Evaluation, Testing and Validation of the Usability of Electronic Health Records (NIST Interagency Report 7804), is available at www.nist.gov/healthcare/usability/index.cfm . A draft version of the document was released for public comment in September 2011. The current version incorporates feedback received.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

iSchool prof predicts the future of search user interfaces

Nov 07, 2011

School of Information professor Marti Hearst predicts the future of online search interfaces in an article in this month’s edition of the Communications of the ACM. “The future of user interfaces will involv ...

Electronic health records may lower malpractice settlements

Nov 25, 2008

Use of electronic health records (EHRs) may help reduce paid malpractice settlements for physicians, according to a new study. The study, which appeared in the November 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, showed a tren ...

Better together - The RN and the EHR

Jan 17, 2012

With the prodding of new federal legislation, electronic health records (EHRs) are rapidly becoming part of the daily practice of hospital nurses – the frontline providers of care. In the first large study of its kind, ...

Recommended for you

Thanksgiving travel woes? There's an app for that

Nov 26, 2014

Traveling by plane, train or automobile can be a headache. Mixing in Thanksgiving can make it a throbbing migraine. Technology provides some pain relief in the form of apps to let you know which roads are ...

Singapore moves to regulate taxi booking apps

Nov 21, 2014

Singapore on Friday announced new rules for mobile taxi booking apps, including US-based Uber, in the latest move by governments around the world to regulate the increasingly popular services.

Protecting personal data in the cloud

Nov 20, 2014

IBM today announced it has patented the design for a data privacy engine that can more efficiently and affordably help businesses protect personal data as it is transferred between countries, including across private clouds.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.