Usability 101 workshoppers conduct research methods for improving EHRs

By Patty Enrado
04:01 PM

Usability is one of the major barriers for health IT adoption, particularly for electronic health records. It was no surprise then that a capacity number of attendees took on the challenge of working through various usability research methods in the workshop Usability 101: Applied Methods.

Edna Boone and Jan Lugibihl of the HIMSS Usability Task Force, which provides HIMSS members, vendors and external organizations with education, tools and best practices in the usability of health IT, led the workshop.

The goal of product usability is to enable specified users to achieve specified goals effectively, efficiently and satisfactorily in a specified context of use. To get there, designers and other stakeholders need to apply adequate knowledge and use appropriate methods to ask and answer the right questions at the right time and in a sound "user-centered design process," workshop leaders told attendees.

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The right method, however, depends on the research question being posed and how the answer is going to be used, according to workshop leaders. Attendees learned about the different research methods that collect different types of data, to which specific types of analysis are applied. The specific types of analysis allow specific types of conclusions to be drawn that will then address different goals.

Attendees looked at early methods such as observation research and card sorting, as well as mid methods such as rapid usability assessment and exploratory user testing. They also looked at late methods such as time motion usability study and validation user testing.

Other workshop planners and leaders who walked through the various stages of methods with attendees were Janey Barnes of User-View, Dr. Jeff Belden of the University of Missouri Health Care, Amy Franklin of SHARPC at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Juhan Sonin of Innovation Studios, Robert Schumacher of User Centric, Mary Anne Sterling of Sterling Health IT Consulting, Lauren Zack of Athenahealth and Jiajie Zhang of SHARPC at the University of Texas Health Science.

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