User-composable Electronic Health Record Improves Efficiency of Clinician Data Viewing for Patient Case Appraisal: A Mixed-Methods Study

EGEMS (Wash DC). 2016 May 2;4(1):1176. doi: 10.13063/2327-9214.1176. eCollection 2016.


Background: Challenges in the design of electronic health records (EHRs) include designing usable systems that must meet the complex, rapidly changing, and high-stakes information needs of clinicians. The ability to move and assemble elements together on the same page has significant human-computer interaction (HCI) and efficiency advantages, and can mitigate the problems of negotiating multiple fixed screens and the associated cognitive burdens.

Objective: We compare MedWISE-a novel EHR that supports user-composable displays-with a conventional EHR in terms of the number of repeat views of data elements for patient case appraisal.

Design and methods: The study used mixed-methods for examination of clinical data viewing in four patient cases. The study compared use of an experimental user-composable EHR with use of a conventional EHR, for case appraisal. Eleven clinicians used a user-composable EHR in a case appraisal task in the laboratory setting. This was compared with log file analysis of the same patient cases in the conventional EHR. We investigated the number of repeat views of the same clinical information during a session and across these two contexts, and compared them using Fisher's exact test.

Results: There was a significant difference (p<.0001) in proportion of cases with repeat data element viewing between the user-composable EHR (14.6 percent) and conventional EHR (72.6 percent).

Discussion and conclusion: Users of conventional EHRs repeatedly viewed the same information elements in the same session, as revealed by log files. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that conventional systems require that the user view many screens and remember information between screens, causing the user to forget information and to have to access the information a second time. Other mechanisms (such as reduction in navigation over a population of users due to interface sharing, and information selection) may also contribute to increased efficiency in the experimental system. Systems that allow a composable approach that enables the user to gather together on the same screen any desired information elements may confer cognitive support benefits that can increase productive use of systems by reducing fragmented information. By reducing cognitive overload, it can also enhance the user experience.

Keywords: Health Information Technology; Health Technology Assessment; Human Computer Interaction (HCI); Informatics.