Developing Evidence-Based, User-Centered Design and Implementation Guidelines to Improve Health Information Technology Usability (Maryland)

Project Details - Ongoing

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When designed well and implemented appropriately, health information technology (IT) has the potential to improve the delivery of care. Most current health IT systems, however, are plagued with poor usability and introduce new patient safety hazards that limit health IT from realizing its full potential. To reach this potential, the technology must be deliberately designed, developed, and implemented with a focus on usability and safe use. This requires vendors to employ a rigorous, user-centered design (UCD) process when developing their product and a well-informed implementation process between the vendor and the adopting organization.

This project will optimize health IT by developing evidence-based guidelines for system design and implementation. The objective is to identify safety gaps in current health IT systems through a retrospective analysis of safety event reports and to use these findings to inform the development of design and implementation guidelines.

To analyze the event reports, the project team will use an innovative hybrid approach of manual patient safety event review and algorithm-based natural language processing to determine which safety events involve a health IT contributing factor. The team will then determine whether a specific stage of the design or implementation process could have prevented the safety event. UCD and implementation guidelines will be developed based on the identified safety gaps as well as current practices. This evidence-based approach to developing design and implementation guidelines will better serve vendors and providers and will inform policy to improve usability and safety.

The specific aims of the project are as follows:

  • Identify health IT-related patient safety events from large patient safety event databases using natural language processing and machine learning techniques in combination with manual review. 
  • Systematically categorize the health IT patient safety events as usability design or implementation related and identify the specific user-centered design or implementation process that would have prevented the patient safety event. 
  • Develop, test, and disseminate (1) an evidence-based UCD guide and (2) an implementation guide to optimize health IT design and implementation for vendor and provider organizations.
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