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Nurse informaticist: We face severe usability problems

Nancy Staggers, professor at the University of Utah, will lead a discussion at HIMSS16 about the need for better design into workflows, cognitive support, and a framework for rethinking the user experience.
By Bill Siwicki
08:20 PM
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Nancy Staggers is a professor at the University of Maryland and an expert on clinical informatics whose experience includes serving as an IT executive on an electronic health records implementation at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Don’t let the indestructible demeanor of nurses fool you: Like other members of the healthcare team, they too have technological difficulties.

“The public and nurses who are not informaticians may have the impression that the quieter stance from nurses means usability issues don’t exist for them – in fact, user experience issues for nurses are severe,” said Nancy Staggers, a professor at the University of Maryland and an expert on clinical informatics whose experience includes serving as an IT executive on an electronic health records implementation at the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Staggers will discuss the top healthcare IT user experience challenges for nurses at HIMSS16 during a roundtable session titled “Conversations on Nursing’s Health IT User Experiences,” at HIMSS16.

Current usability problems include specifics like technology designed to fir nurses’ workflow and cognitive support, as well as broader issues such as needing a vision for health IT and strengthening the voice of nurses within provider organizations.

Because of their role in the care process, nurses have unique IT user experience needs.

“Nurses need a framework for thinking about UX and speaking about their health IT pain points so they can move toward solutions,” Staggers said. “UX is deeper than a simple focus on the computer interface; it is about designing technology to support workflow and the way nurses think and do work.”

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How important are the issues nurses have with healthcare IT?

Extremely, considering the sheer number of nurses and the crucial role nurses play in achieving successful health outcomes.

“The U.S. alone has 3.4 million nurses; in fact, nurses are the largest group of health IT users globally, and they act as information hubs for patients in myriad settings beyond acute care, including long-term care, home health, community-based care, and telehealth,” Staggers said. “UX issues span all settings and are critical in the care of consumers, including special groups such as our aging population. Both the volume and the significance of current UX issues make addressing them an imperative to address in supporting nurses as knowledge workers.”

Impractical IT user experiences for nurses can result in errors, patient safety issues, delayed decision making and huge inefficiencies, Staggers added.

“Fixing UX issues is important to patients, nurses and the healthcare profession as a whole to improve safety and outcomes, enhance productivity, support critical thinking, and reduce inefficiencies,” Staggers said.

The session, “Conversations on Nursing’s Health IT User Experiences,” is slated for Tuesday March 1, 2016 from 4-5 p.m. in the Sands Expo Convention Center Galileo 1004.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT


This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.