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    Electronic Medical Records: Provotype visualisation maximises clinical usability

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2018)

    London, UK, 9 - 13 July 2018


    David Pao, John Stevens, Dan Lockton & Netta Weinstein



    The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is the essential tool of the clinical consultation, effectively replacing the paper medical record. Since its gradual adoption in the early 2000s there has been a failure to achieve even moderate levels of EMR usability in clinical settings, resulting in a negative impact on clinical care, time efficiency and patient safety. This research explores how deeper collaboration with clinical users through participatory design, drawing on the disciplines of visual design, user experience (UX) design and visual analytics, might offer a more effective approach to this important problem.

    The lead researcher for this project is both a practising doctor and design researcher. Usability of two commercial EMR interfaces in the field of sexual health is explored through a mixed method survey, with responses used to inform the design of an interface provotype. This in turn is evaluated through repeat survey and ‘test-drive’ talk-aloud workshops. Results from the survey on two commercial EMR interfaces (n=49) revealed deep dissatisfaction particularly around issues of navigation, flow of consultation, frustration, safety, time-dependent and time-independent data, data complexity and data salience. Comparative provotype evaluation (n=63) showed that clinically-relevant visualisation offers marked gains in clinical usability and performance.

    This research argues for a re-imagining of the way we look at medical data during the clinical consultation so that the affordances and benefits of the digital format can be exploited more fully. It highlights the value of combining participatory design with visualisation to embed explicit, experiential and even tacit clinical knowledge into the EMR interface.


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