NIST Guide Helps Evaluate EHR Usability

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has outlined formal procedures for evaluating the usability of electronic health record systems in a new report, “Technical Evaluation, Testing and Validation of the Usability of Electronic Health Records.”

The proposed usability protocol encourages a user-centered approach to the development of EHR systems. It provides methods to measure and address critical errors in user performance before those systems are deployed in a medical setting.

“This guidance can be a useful tool for EHR developers to demonstrate that their systems don’t lead to use errors or user errors,” NIST researcher Matt Quinn said. “It will provide a way for developers and evaluators to objectively assess how easy their EHR systems are to learn and operate, while maximizing efficiency.”

The protocol is a three-step process consisting of an analysis of how the application functions, expert review, and validation testing of the user interface to make sure it works as intended.


“We hope this encourages system developers to apply human factors best practices and incorporate user-centered design processes,” said Quinn. “These practices and processes have proven records in industries such as aviation, military systems, transportation, nuclear power, and others where safety is a concern.”

NIST Technical Evaluation, Testing, and Validation of the Usability of Electronic Health Records

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