HIMSS Virtual Conference: Paper and pencil can aid EMR design

Could paper and pencil help design better EMRs? University of Missouri family physician Dr. Jeffery Belden and Janey Barnes, human factors specialist at design consultancy User-View, think so.

When brainstorming an EMR implementation, rely on note cards, sticky notes, sketches and other low-tech media for arranging ideas and processes, Belden and Barnes suggested Wednesday during the HIMSS Virtual Conference. "Paper is cheap and quick," Belden said, according to Healthcare IT News. Card sorting "aids information design," he added, helping EMR developers discover "latent structures in an unsorted group of ideas."

The ultimate goal of such an exercise is usability, because difficult-to-use EMRs may create safety problems, if a recent Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report is to be believed. Belden recommended that systems designers should rank the most desirable features and functions, then move note cards around on a bulletin board in hopes of discovering "users' mental model" to guide design.

For more details:
- see this Healthcare IT News story