Improvements to EHR usability stagnant over time, study finds

Usability scores of EHR vendors that have attested to meaningful use did not improve between 2014 and 2015, according to a Dec 13 research letter published in JAMA Network Open.

For the analysis, University of Virginia and MedStar Health researchers examined 70 EHR vendors with the most attestations to meaningful use from healthcare organizations between July 1, 2016, and April 30, 2018. The researchers analyzed differences in system usability scale scores between EHR products certified in 2014 and 2015.

SUS is a validated posttest questionnaire that measures user satisfaction with product usability, based on a 100-point scale. For EHRs, a SUS score of 68 is accepted as the average benchmark, while a SUS of 80 is considered above average. 

Results of the analysis showed that just 27 vendors met ONC's inclusion criteria for promoting usability. Additionally, there was no statistical improvement in SUS scores for EHRs between products certified according to 2014 and 2015 standards. One-third of 2014 products and one-quarter of 2015 products scored below average in usability, and SUS scores decreased for 44 percent of vendors from 2014 to 2015.

The researchers concluded that, based on SUS scores reported by vendors, clinician satisfaction with EHR usability is not improving for many products. However, the study presents some limitations, including how vendor-reported SUS scores may not reflect satisfaction with implemented EHRs and that only a subset of vendors were included in the analysis.

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