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J Biomed Inform. 2012 Oct;45(5):950-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2012.03.007. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Usability of a novel clinician interface for genetic results.

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Partners HealthCare System, Inc., 93 Worcester Street, Wellesley, MA 02481, USA.


The complexity and rapid growth of genetic data demand investment in information technology to support effective use of this information. Creating infrastructure to communicate genetic information to healthcare providers and enable them to manage that data can positively affect a patient's care in many ways. However, genetic data are complex and present many challenges. We report on the usability of a novel application designed to assist providers in receiving and managing a patient's genetic profile, including ongoing updated interpretations of the genetic variants in those patients. Because these interpretations are constantly evolving, managing them represents a challenge. We conducted usability tests with potential users of this application and reported findings to the application development team, many of which were addressed in subsequent versions. Clinicians were excited about the value this tool provides in pushing out variant updates to providers and overall gave the application high usability ratings, but had some difficulty interpreting elements of the interface. Many issues identified required relatively little development effort to fix suggesting that consistently incorporating this type of analysis in the development process can be highly beneficial. For genetic decision support applications, our findings suggest the importance of designing a system that can deliver the most current knowledge and highlight the significance of new genetic information for clinical care. Our results demonstrate that using a development and design process that is user focused helped optimize the value of this application for personalized medicine.

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