Objective: The objective of our study was to assess the acceptability of a proposed user interface to visually interfaced computer-assisted anesthesia record (VISI-CAARE), before the application was begun. The user interface was defined as the user display and its user orientation methods.
Methods: We designed methods to measure user performance and attitude toward two different anesthesia record procedures: (1) the traditional pen and paper anesthetic record procedure of our hospital, and (2) VISI-CAARE. Performance measurements included the reaction speed (identifying the type and time of an event) and completion speed (describing the event). Performance also included accuracy of the recorded time of the event and accuracy of the description. User attitude was measured by (1) the physician's rating on a scale of 0 to 9 of the potential usefulness of computers in anesthesia care; (2) willingness to use the future application in the clinical environment; and (3) user suggestions for change. These measurements were used in a randomized trial of 21 physicians, of which data from 20 were available.
Results: After exposure to VISI-CAARE, the experimental subjects' ranking of computer usefulness in anesthesia care improved significantly (4.2 +/- 1.1 to 7.6 +/- 1.5, p = 0.0001), as did controls' (5.2 +/- 2.6 to 8 +/- 1.5, p = 0.0019). All the volunteers were willing to try the proposed prototype clinically, when it was ready. VISI-CAARE exposure was associated with faster and more accurate reaction to events over the traditional pen and paper machine, and slower and more accurate description of events in an artificial mock setting. VISI-CAARE 1.1 demonstrated significant improvements in both reaction speed and completion speed over VISI-CAARE 1.0, after changes were made to the user display and orientation methods.
Conclusion: With graphic user interface prototyping environments, one can obtain preliminary user attitude and performance data, even before application programming is begun. This may be helpful in revising initial display and orientation methods, while obtaining user interest and commitment before actual programming and clinical testing.