HIMSS white paper: 'Usability' is critical to adoption of EMRs

By Kyle Hardy
11:21 AM

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's EHR Usability Task Force has released a white paper focusing on the level of usability in electronic medical records and their implementation at healthcare organizations.

"Defining and Testing EMR Usability: Principles and Proposed Methods of EMR Usability Evaluation and Rating" identifies usability of software in an EMR as “one of the major factors and possibly the most important factor hindering widespread adoption of EMRs.”

“Through our research, we found that usability as a requirement in the certification process could benefit product development for more usable EMR products and give users or decision-makers more confidence in selecting clinical EMR systems,” said Jeffery L. Belden, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Missouri Health Care's School of Medicine and chairman of the HIMSS EHR Usability Task Force.

Principles and methods are highlighted in the study as processes that offer benefits for organizations that certify technology. These procedures allow certifications organization “to test and rate products for usability.”

The study also looks at:

  • a definition of usability relating to an EMR;
  • a set of principles pertaining to usability and design; and
  • potential methods for assessing and rating usability of an EMR

The HIMSS task force gives suggestions for rating the usability of an EMR through a five-step process, emphasizing that organizations start small with usability ratings, devise measurements and create a five-star rating system base on a standard.

“With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the catalyst for healthcare reform, this white paper provides an insightful review of usability for the EMR and its value in the certification process,” said Edna Boone,  HIMSS' senior director of healthcare information systems.  “The task force will continue to study this important topic of usability and its benefits for successful EMR implementation.”