Building User-Friendly Healthcare Software through Usability Engineering

Author: Constance M. Johnson, RN, BSN

Primary Advisor: James P. Turley, PhD

Committee Members: Christopher Amos, MD; Todd R. Johnson, PhD; Craig W. Johnson, PhD

Masters thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

Poorly designed systems create the potential for user error and frustration, however, attention to usability guidelines can lead to applications that decrease user errors and increase user acceptance. Healthcare professionals need easy to use tools to assimilate a myriad of information, make a diagnosis, and provide optimal treatment. Since medical information systems are increasing in popularity based on perceived advantages for facilitating the delivery of care and have the potential to assist practitioners in improving the quality of health care. However, clinicians have been slow to use these systems often because of a lack of user-focused design. Efficient healthcare information systems should enhance clinician skills in improving patient care and minimize time spent in documenting patient care. This paper reviews the importance of basic usability methods, namely user, environmental, and task analysis, to develop usable healthcare software.