A new white paper released by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society EHR Usability Task Force focuses on the usability of electronic health records. Authors are task force members Jeff Belden, M.D., Chair, HIMSS EHR Usability Task Force; Rebecca Grayson and Janey Barnes, Ph.D.
Commenting to DOTmed Dr. Belden said, "I've heard from practicing clinicians for years about the yearning for better usability. This team helped articulate very clearly what usability is, and what it is not. It's not just user-satisfaction. There is a robust body of knowledge and methods that are ready to use. The methods to rate usability are objective and rigorous. Innovation and competition should flourish as the best EMR products get the chance to demonstrate their usability to all users and purchasers of EMRs."
"Defining and Testing EMR Usability: Principles and Proposed Methods of EMR Usability Evaluation and Rating," points out that cost and loss of productivity are most often cited as reasons for slow progress for EMR implementation, but asks, "what about usability?"
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"The HIMSS EHR Usability Task Force looks at usability from the perspective of a clinician who would use and interact with the electronic medical record," Edna Boone, MASS, CPHIMS, HIMSS Senior Director, Health Information Systems told DOTmed. She went on to explain that the focus on the user of the system offers valuable insight into how the technology should operate to ensure ease of use and efficiency, two components in the task force's definition of usability, as reflected in the white paper. "The existence and measurement of function and usability are crucial for meaningful EMR use. We can have it all."
In addition to describing and defining usability as it pertains to the EMR, the paper identifies a set of well-established principles of usability and design, and offers potential methods of assessing and rating EMR usability.
"With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the catalyst for health care reform, this white paper provides an insightful review of usability for the EMR and its value in the certification process," says Ms. Boon. "The task force will continue to study this important topic of usability and its benefits for successful EMR implementation."
For more information and to read "Defining and Testing EMR Usability: Principles and Proposed Methods of EMR Usability Evaluation and Rating," go to www.himss.org.