Electronic Health Record Usability Testing Can Identify Correctable Concerns

electronic medical record illustration

Poor electronic health record (EHR) usability can affect patient safety, user satisfaction and provider burnout. But a team of researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine found even a modest user testing approach can make a big difference when it comes to EHR usability.

The research team, which included physicians, informaticists and a solution architect from MU Health Care and the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation developed a site-specific usability program and evaluated thirteen new features available in the MU Health Care EHR over a period of three user test events. Each event included up to six users who measured the features for user efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.

Margaret Day, MD
Margaret Day, MD

During the testing, the research team identified 33 usability concerns, a rate of 2.5 concerns per feature tested. More than 70% of the usability concerns were determined to be correctable, suggesting that a site-specific user testing program can prevent the implementation of features with poor usability and help detect correctable problems.

“We learned about unanticipated errors and parts of the tasks that slowed providers down as they used the tool,” said co-author Margaret Day, MD, associate professor of Family and Community Medicine. “We were then able to fix the errors and retest the tool before it was made available to care for patients. This testing saves precious time, reduces errors, and improves satisfaction of providers as they do the important work of providing care to patients.” 

Day’s co-authors included Robert Pierce, MD, associate professor of Family and Community Medicine; Bernie Eskridge, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Child Health; Jeffrey Belden, MD, professor emeritus of Family and Community Medicine; Brandi Ross, senior integration architect; and Brooke Dean, MD, resident physician.

Their article “Improving the User Experience with Discount Site-Specific User Testing,” was recently published in the journal Applied Clinical Informatics.