Usability of a perioperative medication-related clinical decision support software application: a randomized controlled trial

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2022 Jul 12;29(8):1416-1424. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocac035.


Objective: We developed a comprehensive, medication-related clinical decision support (CDS) software prototype for use in the operating room. The purpose of this study was to compare the usability of the CDS software to the current standard electronic health record (EHR) medication administration and documentation workflow.

Materials and methods: The primary outcome was the time taken to complete all simulation tasks. Secondary outcomes were the total number of mouse clicks and the total distance traveled on the screen in pixels. Forty participants were randomized and assigned to complete 7 simulation tasks in 1 of 2 groups: (1) the CDS group (n = 20), who completed tasks using the CDS and (2) the Control group (n = 20), who completed tasks using the standard medication workflow with retrospective manual documentation in our anesthesia information management system. Blinding was not possible. We video- and audio-recorded the participants to capture quantitative data (time on task, mouse clicks, and pixels traveled on the screen) and qualitative data (think-aloud verbalization).

Results: The CDS group mean total task time (402.2 ± 85.9 s) was less than the Control group (509.8 ± 103.6 s), with a mean difference of 107.6 s (95% confidence interval [CI], 60.5-179.5 s, P < .001). The CDS group used fewer mouse clicks (26.4 ± 4.5 clicks) than the Control group (56.0 ± 15.0 clicks) with a mean difference of 29.6 clicks (95% CI, 23.2-37.6, P < .001). The CDS group had fewer pixels traveled on the computer monitor (59.5 ± 20.0 thousand pixels) than the Control group (109.3 ± 40.8 thousand pixels) with a mean difference of 49.8 thousand pixels (95% CI, 33.0-73.7, P < .001).

Conclusions: The perioperative medication-related CDS software prototype substantially outperformed standard EHR workflow by decreasing task time and improving efficiency and quality of care in a simulation setting.

Keywords: anesthesia; clinical decision support systems; drug safety; randomized controlled trial; usability testing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Documentation
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Software