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Posted By Amanda Girard On July 22, 2021

Usability versus Learnability in EHR User Interface

Usability Learnability EHR User Interface

When choosing a User Interface (UI) for your Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution, be sure to consider usability vs learnability in the system design. While there is a relationship between these terms, there is always a tension between being easy-to-use versus easy-to-learn and UI’s often sacrifice one over the other in terms of design. A great system has a bit of both, however. It is important to find the right balance between usability and learnability to make your EHR, user experience the best fit for your needs.

Usability is a term that references whether a user can accomplish their goal within a system or app. Learnability focuses on the usability aspects needed for users to more easily learn how to use a system or app. A software or application that is easy-to-use will require some training, documentation and manuals to study but the system can be learned and used for its intended purposes. A software or application that is easy-to-learn will not require outside training or reading documentation and is easy to understand and use right away. Being easy-to-learn does not imply a system or app will be easier to use later on, however. There may be menus of instructions built within the system or app to guide a user through that make a system easy-to-learn and use right away that can become tedious if your system is used over and over by users, making those prompts unnecessary. 

An easy-to-learn system or app is the best fit for novices or occasional users. When your healthcare agency is adopting a patient portal, you have to consider how infrequently patients access it. It is important that the navigation be very intuitive for patients to use right away without outside training and instruction manuals. Your daily-use EHR and billing systems can be a bit more complex, however.

Whether a system or app is designed to be easy-to-learn or easy-to-use, there are universal factors in UI design that will make it overall more successful. Being learnable still is a factor in usability and is how these terms are related. As such, make sure your EHR user interface is easy enough to learn for your staff even if you are providing training. These universal UI design factors include:

  • The intended user understands the user interface and finds it logical.
  • The system or app is consistent in the use of design patterns.
  • The users always feel in control.
  • The users always understand where they are, how they got there, and how to get back.

Having a good user experience ensures your patients and staff do not find your EHR more burdensome than helpful. Balancing usability versus learnability in EHR user interfaces and making sure your product has an overall successful user interface with good design principles is key to avoiding digital burnout.

About Amanda Girard

Amanda is a Marketing Associate at Patagonia Health, a cloud and apps-based Electronic Health Records (EHR) software company serving Public and Behavioral Health agencies. Amanda combines industry research and a passion for supporting health and well-being to develop content with important resources and news about healthcare and health IT.

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