Inspired EHRs: Designing for Clinicians


In a recent survey, over one-third of physicians said that they were very dissatisfied with the usability of their electronic health record (EHR) system. This is important because a poor user interface, which includes both the learnability and ease of use of an EHR, can cause people to avoid using it and can lead to errors when they do.

Concerned by the potential for errors, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) called for the development of a common user interface style guide for EHR functions that impact patient safety. This set of common elements has the potential to improve EHR usability by facilitating standardized training and use across disparate EHR platforms.

In partnership with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center-Houston, CHCF supported the development of an interactive, illustrated style guide focused on the usability of EHR functions that relate to:

  • Display of patient allergies and medications
  • Drug-drug and drug-allergy alerts
  • Electronic prescribing
  • Medication reconciliation

Built upon a user-centered design process, the style guide was published as an e-book in July 2014. Prototype designs presented in the book demonstrate the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) Clinician Experience Workgroup criteria for enhancing the safety of EHR functions.