EMR Dissatisfaction: Do EMR companies care about usability?

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An article published on KevinMD yesterday is a lively discussion about how and why the current EMR’s usability has proliferated in today’s healthcare.

Basically, the argument is why can’t modern EMR manufacturers deliver a product that’s as easy and efficient to use as those developed in Silicon Valley? The usability design of the EMR seems to leave the end-users out of the design process.

David Do, MD, starts the conversation off describing how today’s clinical environment is full of small time “innovation” that doesn’t really help clinicians and providers deliver smoother and better care. Skirting the issue of complex and busy interfaces that takes a lot of time to master, the EMR companies build things that add cumbersome activities that add frustration to the users.

From my experience of helping to develop new software products, often the front-end, where the end-user spends all their time, often gets the short end of the development stick. I’ve seen it where how the user actually uses the software is an afterthought after all the functionality on the back-end is fleshed out and up and running according to spec.

It does seem like there is some inertia in the development process where the “usability will get addressed later.” It will get hammered out later how the end-user finds things in the interface and may actually enjoy using the interface day after day.

And I’ve also worked in teams where the user interaction, and the pleasure-of-using-the-product factor, is designed right up front and alongside the back-end development.

It sounds to me like a primary hitch in the EMR-to-clinical-environment may stem from how the purchase decision is made. The specs for a satisfactory EMR are daunting and doing this is no small task.

I’ve come to understand many of the factors at play in how the EMR is installed and used by the clinical staff network-wide. There’s a lot to it, and I’m hoping that everybody comes from a good place in adding their say in what the organization gets in their EMR. I’d love to see the EMR companies weigh in on this discussion.

http://goo.gl/bL7dq

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