EHR Medications Usability

Adapted from Inspired EHRs

In post-acute care, we commonly see patients with 20 or more current medications. In many EHRs, this list of meds is displayed as a dense wall of text with no visual cues for quickly processing the large amount of complex data. Add a high case load and a few family conferences, and you'll be finishing your documentation late in the evening.
So what can we do to reduce the time and cognitive load so providers can quickly understand a lengthy patient medications list? Basic usability! And you don't even need to figure it out for yourself because there is already a free resource available: Inspired EHRs is a freely downloadable guide written to teach EHR product managers and software developers how to improve usability for clinicians. This eBook is brief and easy to read but also full of relevant usability examples and scenarios covering medications lists, e-prescribing, allergy lists, and drug alerts, and they also teach general usability principles in the last three chapters.

EHR usability: a better medications listChapter 2 focuses on medications, and we've put together an HTML/CSS demonstration of their Simple Medications List in Example 2.1. From the authors:

The simple list displays bare-bones basic information. It’s made to be read quickly, scanned at a glance. It’s easy to scan visually to see the name, strength, and dosing of the medication. The list is alphabetical, which makes it easy to search for and locate particular items.

With these example files, you can quickly implement your own version of the Simple Medications List. The code is MIT-licensed for free use, and you can download a zip file from GitHub. With free resources such as Inspired EHRs, there is no longer an excuse for EHR vendors to deliver crappy software. We are sharing our files to inspire other vendors to do the same.

Also check out:

Dr. Jeff Belden EHR Usability Evangelist

SHARPC Usability Research