Regular readers of my blog and the articles that I write for several publications will know that I have considerable concerns about the usability of physician office health IT systems (typically referred to as EMR in Canada and EHR in the US). The US Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) shares my concerns [or, perhaps, I share their concerns :)] and has funded the US National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide advice on how to improve the usability of EHR software.
According to a post on MedHealthWorld, NIST has released two publications related to EHR usability design and testing:
- NIST Guide to the Processes Approach for Improving the Usability of Electronic Health Records (NISTIR 7741) which offers advice on how to employ “user-centered-design” processes throughout an EHR product life cycle.
- Customized Common Industry Format Template for Electronic Health Record Usability Testing (NISTIR 7742) which provides a standard reporting format (known as the Common User Industry format) adopted and customized for testing EHR systems.
I am huge fan of user centered design. I have personally witnessed the level of user acceptance of the software produced using this approach. By actively engaging users throughout the design and development process, the likelihood of user acceptance is greatly increased. Indeed, I have seen users literally nagging developers as to when the software that they helped design would be ready for them to use.