EMR Usability Evaluation: An EHR Tool for Physicians

The first post in this series described the need for a tool physicians can use to evaluate EMR usability. The second post set out a conceptual framework for developing such a tool. In this post, we present an actual EMR usability evaluation tool.

We see this tool as a template. It’s not etched in stone. We urge you to develop your own task lists and metrics. Use the tool to evaluate each EMR you are considering, and compare the results. Your final decision about an EMR should be based on these results as well as other factors like cost, quality of support, waiting time before the EMR can be implemented, and so forth. In parting, we urge you to remember three things:

Things to Remember about EMR Usability:

  1. You can assess this yourself!
  2. You should consider EMR usability when selecting an EHR, because it will affect your productivity and your ability to carry out error-free work.
  3. The federal EMR certification process does not address usability. Many clunky, non-intuitive EMRs will be certified by ONC-appointed bodies.

Rating Tool for EMR Efficiency:

Frequently-Performed Tasks Performance Metric Result Overall Satisfaction  
Creating a chart note - Time to complete SOAP note
- # clicks to complete SOAP note
- Seconds
- #
(1 poor to 10 excellent)  
Scheduling a patient visit - Time to complete appointment
- Can patient record be accessed from schedule?
- Seconds
- Y or N
   
e-Prescribing a medication - Time to complete prescription for drug
- # screen views to complete prescription
- Time to complete a refill request for drug x
- Seconds
- #
- Seconds
   

Rating Tool for EMR Effectiveness, Safety and Quality:

Tasks Impacting Quality and Safety Performance Metric Result Overall Satisfaction
Handling a Drug-Drug Interaction Alert (e.g. digoxin-quinidine,warfarin-erythromycin, Viagra-nitrate) Was the alert easy to understand?
- Were alternatives presented?
- All necessary info presented onscreen?
- Y or N
- Y or N
- Y or N
(1 poor to 10 excellent)
Screening/Prevention(e.g. mammograms in females 65 years old) - Was the reminder easy to understand?
- Was it presented at an appropriate time?
- Y or N
- Y or N
 
Finding a Patient in the Data Base - Breadth of search capability (name,ID#, etc.)
- Handling of multiple patients with same names
- Adequate or not
- Adequate or not
 
Sending a Secure Message to a Patient - Log-in & passwords secure and easy to understand?
- Are you notified when pt. doesn’t read message?
- Y or N
- Y or N
 

Good luck!

Glenn Laffel, MD, PhD
Sr. VP Clinical Affairs
Practice Fusion EMR