The Challenge of Creating a Good EMR User Interface

Posted on April 1, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently saw a newsletter done by User Centric that had a couple interesting pieces.

First, Dr. Wendy Yee writes, “Most HCPs will bluntly tell you that they did not go through medical training to become data entry clerks. They also are highly sensitive to time requirements because their days can be brutally compressed.” Sounds a lot like my post EHR Software Makes Doctors Secretaries.

Dr. Yee also provides an interesting list of multiple items that are simultaneously going through a doctor’s mind while using an EHR:

  • There must be a way to make order entry faster…
  • What was the procedure code for that variation of a genetic test?
  • Let’s see, should I order Test ABC or Test DEF (or both)?
  • I need to check for Jane Doe’s lab results from yesterday.
  • Why isn’t that med listed under antivirals?
  • What does that obscure lab reading mean?
  • Has the patient’s problem list changed in the last day or so?
  • Why do I have to enter patient notes *this* way when the EHR at the teaching hospital has me enter it the other way?
  • Are there additional contraindications?
  • When was the patient’s last MRI?
  • I’m running behind, but I still need to enter this script.

Is it any wonder that it’s not a simple task to make an EHR that a doctor will consider usable? Not impossible, but certainly a challenge.

User Centric will be at HiMSS, Chicago! Booth #3382 They’ll be demonstrating how eye tracking can be utilized to uncover opportunities to improve user interfaces. No, I don’t have any financial connection with them, but eye tracking is really cool technology. Plus, I’m happy to support anyone that I think can make a difference when it comes to making EMR software more usable.