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Developing a user-friendly interface for a self-service healthcare research portal: cost-effective usability testing

Abstract

Usability is a critical but often overlooked factor in the design and development of healthcare information technology systems. One system increasingly being leveraged as a research and quality improvement tool is an online research portal that allows self-service access to electronic health record (EHR) data. We discuss the usability testing of such a portal through a low-cost usability inspection method: heuristic evaluation. Using heuristic evaluation methods, we identified 20 usability errors: 15.0% (3/20) were cosmetic, 35.0% (7/20) were minor, 40.0% (8/20) were major, and 10.0% (2/20) were catastrophic. Our heuristic evaluation demonstrates an affordable and efficient method to identify and correct a significant number of problems, thus improving the system using limited effort and resources. A user-friendly environment that follows accepted heuristics for good interface design is essential for ensuring accessibility and usability of data extracted from EHRs for quality improvement and research projects.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Shelley Rusincovitch and the Duke Health Technology Solutions Management Team for their help and support. This publication was made possible by Grant Number UL1RR024128 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or Duke University.

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Correspondence to Ryan J Shaw.

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Shaw, R., Horvath, M., Leonard, D. et al. Developing a user-friendly interface for a self-service healthcare research portal: cost-effective usability testing. Health Syst 4, 151–158 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/hs.2014.26

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/hs.2014.26

Keywords

  • usability testing
  • online research portal
  • low-cost
  • time-efficient
  • medical informatics systems
  • data warehouse