Going back to my beginnings in the new field of building “user-friendly” software in the early 1980’s, usability began a long history as a potential product differentiator in a competitive field.
Now, with the onset of a multitude of EMR software programs coming to market now and in the next few years, software vendors are now marketing usability as a key feature of their products.
The real question is, are their products really more usable than their competitor’s? I’ve designed a number of EMR’s and electronic field data collection systems, and I know that most of the EMR’s I’ve seen have been far less than usable!
Here’s what vendors are supposedly focusing on to improve their product’s usability:
- Reducing click counts and the time it takes to accomplish tasks
- Improving screen-design elements
- Creating consistencies in screen designs
- Reducing information overload
- Reducing alert fatigue
- Matching system flow to workflow
- Building forgiveness into data entry
However, following a usability checklist does not guarantee a product’s usability. Product design involves many iterative stages and activities, including user research, prototyping and design, and user testing.
A recent review of EMR usability is worth a read at amednews.com – Check it out!