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J Biomed Inform. 2005 Feb;38(1):51-60.

Using qualitative studies to improve the usability of an EMR.

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Clinical Informatics Research & Development, Partners HealthCare System, Boston, MA 01752, USA.


The adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) and user satisfaction are closely associated with the system's usability. To improve the usability of a results management module of a widely deployed web-based EMR, we conducted two qualitative studies that included multiple focus group and field study sessions. Qualitative research can help focus attention on user tasks and goals and identify patterns of care that can be visualized through task modeling exercises. Findings from both studies raised issues with the amount and organization of information in the display, interference with workflow patterns of primary care physicians, and the availability of visual cues and feedback. We used the findings of these studies to recommend design changes to the user interface of the results management module.

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