What Is Different About Health IT When Talking Usability?

Kyle Murphy | EHR Intelligence | January 7, 2014

Health information technology may resemble other forms of hardware, software, systems, and services, but when the focus turns to usability that resemblance breaks down, according Jacob Reider, MD, of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

The outgoing head of the ONC — who’s set to return to his post as federal agency’s Chief Medical Officer when Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, assumes the role vacated by Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, in 2013 — has provided insight into how the usability of health IT differs from similar technologies in his latest post on Health IT Buzz.

“Early adopters of technology are well known to tolerate imperfections,” writes Reider. “Traditional market forces generally keep products that are difficult to use from succeeding, and as any user of an Apple Newton External Links Disclaimer remembers, the promise of an innovative solution isn’t always realized and will/should fail in the marketplace. Yet some have argued that the meaningful use incentive program altered market forces in a way that prevents well-intentioned products failing as did Apple’s first ‘personal digital assistant.’”