Background: Major postoperative morbidity and mortality remain common despite efforts to improve patient outcomes. Health information technologies have the potential to actualize advances in perioperative patient care, but failure to evaluate the usability of these technologies may hinder their implementation and acceptance. This protocol describes the usability testing of an innovative telemedicine-based intra-operative clinical support system, the Anesthesiology Control Tower, in which a team led by an attending anesthesiologist will use a combination of established and novel information technologies to provide evidence-based support to their colleagues in the operating room.
Methods: Two phases of mixed-methods usability testing will be conducted in an iterative manner and will evaluate both the individual components of the Anesthesiology Control Tower and their integration as a whole. Phase I testing will employ two separate "think-aloud" protocol analyses with the two groups of end users. Segments will be coded and analyzed for usability issues. Phase II will involve a qualitative and quantitative in situ usability and feasibility analysis. Results from each phase will inform the revision and improvement of the Control Tower prototype throughout our testing and analysis process. The final prototype will be evaluated in the form of a pragmatic randomized controlled clinical trial.
Discussion: The Anesthesiology Control Tower has the potential to revolutionize the standard of care for perioperative medicine. Through the thorough and iterative usability testing process described in this protocol, we will maximize the usefulness of this novel technology for our clinicians, thus improving our ability to implement this innovation into the model of care for perioperative medicine.
Trial registration: The study that this protocol describes has been registered in clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02830126.
Keywords: Clinician decision support; Feasibility; Health information technology; Human-computer interaction; Telemedicine; Usability.