Monday, May 4, 2015

Experts don't need usability

Or at least that is what I get out of the for comment only ballot on the EHR Usability Criteria from HL7.

How have they failed HL7 Membership?  Let me count the ways:

The overview to the spreadsheet contains no descriptions of the structure or columns.
Information is presented in hard to read color combinations where there is no explanation of the meaning of the different colors used.  In one column, there are five different background colors in use, and two different text colors, with no indication as to why these colors are used.

In a ten column layout for 610 rows, six of those columns are blank more than 85% of the time. Three are blank more than 95% of the time, and 100% is blank all of the time.  Why is this material even there?

The table appears itself to be denormalized representation of two different kinds of row, a "header row", for which one or more conformance rows appear. The overlap between rows is distinguished by a single column named TYPE, for which no explanation of the codes in it appear anywhere.  Of the six columns usually containing data (see above), four apply to one TYPE, and two to another.

Finally, if HL7 wants this work to be taken seriously, it had better work on demonstrating it has a clue about the usability of documentation and specifications.  While I am encouraged about progess made in C-CDA HTML views in Structure documents, this is at the other end of the spectrum (the opposite of progress ... which much be congress).

This should never have happened, and if I see material like this again, I'll do my best to encourage the behavior that it represents: revolting.

My advice to this committee is simple: Get some usability help, and stop using inappropriately configured tools.


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