Roadmap to a more useful and usable electronic health record

John R. Windle, Thomas A. Windle, Ketemwabi Y. Shamavu, Quinn M. Nelson, Martina A. Clarke, Ann L. Fruhling, James E. Tcheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: A decade after the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, electronic health records (EHRs) largely remain poorly designed and contribute to clinician burnout. Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand clinicians’ wants, needs, and perceived barriers imposed by the EHR; implement best practices in user-centered design; and create a clinician-centered EHR framework validated via a functional EHR prototype. Methods: Usability evaluations were performed using a simulated patient with a complex clinical scenario. Convergent parallel mixed methods linked to action research and agile development were used to create an EHR prototype based on clinician-centered design. Prototype functionality was validated via a final usability evaluation. Results: Between 2015 and 2017, 53 clinicians from 8 cardiology practices (4 academic and 4 private) participated in initial evaluations of their installed EHR. In 2019, 25 clinicians participated in final evaluations of their EHR vs our EHR prototype. Initial evaluations documented that clinicians judged the EHRs as poorly designed, scoring a mean of 47.1 on the System Usability Scale. Clinicians expressed that EHRs impeded workflow and communication and prolonged their workday. In the final evaluations, no improvement in installed EHRs was found (mean score 48.1); however, the EHR prototype was assessed as significantly more usable (mean score 77.8; P <.001). Conclusion: A decade after the HITECH Act, EHRs still receive low usability scores. By applying user-centered design, an EHR prototype with improved features, functionality, and workflow integration was developed. Clinician testing of the EHR prototype demonstrated it was significantly more useful and usable to clinicians, thus identifying a framework and pathway for substantive improvement of EHR systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-311
Number of pages11
JournalCardiovascular Digital Health Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Electronic health record
  • Usability
  • User-centered design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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