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: Tecnalia designs an app to help elderly people get around on public transport

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

Google worker shows early-draft glimpse of Chrome OS

Jul 20, 2014

The Chrome OS is in for a future look. Athena, a Chromium OS project, will bring forth the new Chrome OS user experience. Google's Fran├žois Beaufort on Friday, referring to the screenshot he posted, said," ...

Google eyes Chrome on Windows laptop battery drain

Jul 19, 2014

Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows has been said to have a problem for some time but this week comes news that Google will give it the attention others think the problem quite deserves. Namely, Google is to ...

Mental-health monitoring goes mobile

Jul 16, 2014

Behavioral health analytics startup Ginger.io sees smartphones as "automated diaries" containing valuable insight into the mental well-being of people with mental illnesses.

User comments : 0