This introductory session covers the science of usability and highlights common practical methods that can be applied to healthcare IT applications. Emphasis is on heuristic evaluations using the Nielsen-Schneiderman human-computer usability heuristics (Zhang et al, 2003). Attendees participated in paired groups and conducted heuristic evaluations on six aspects of the electronic medication administration record (eMAR). The training culminated in sharing and prioritizing the results of the heuristic evaluations.
Findings were significant and included issues related to the:
- inconsistent use of color within the software applications,
- counter-intuitive nature of icons,
- frequent use of terminology with which end users are either unfamiliar or find counter-intuitive,
- inclusion of unnecessary information felt to be unimportant to the user of the respective screen or application (and thus poor allocation of screen space),
- legal ramification of certain fields not maintaining a complete audit trail, and
- mismatch of design to users’ mental models.