HIMSS focuses on usability in guide to selecting mobile apps

A new document from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) aims to help small and midsize practices in selecting mobile apps, focusing on usability. Formal, in-depth product comparisons might not be practical for smaller practices, but a review of usability recommendations and best practices can ease this process.

The document recommends that providers start by defining their goals for an app. Questions like "Are you looking to handle prescription refill requests more efficiently?" and "How much training will be required?" can help in that process. Likely scenarios or tasks to measure the time to complete a task, satisfaction with the tool and other factors, can be set up using a questionnaire.

Second, the document suggests that providers sift through market reviews. The paper provides resources to check out other opinions about medical apps, though it warns these should not outweigh usability tests conducted by and based on a practice's goals.

The paper also provides sample primary care practice scenarios in which testers can evaluate apps for efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. 

Usability experts are in high demand in the app market overall, and comments on a recent FierceEMR piece indicate there's much work to be done in that vein. Unless an app is intuitive, easy to use and efficient, it's not likely to be used. The document implores providers to focus on making their employees' lives easier while more efficiently compiling data. For example, an emergency department physician at Ashland [Ore.] Community Hospital is creating new software for the iPad that allows clinicians to document notes, narratives and other information without keyboards, relying instead on speech-recognition software so clinicians in a busy ER don't have to find a PC to log into.

To learn more:
- download the paper