Usability and Provider Burden


Electronic health record (EHR) adoption is now approaching 100% in many settings, and as adoption increases so does concern surrounding satisfaction with the user experience. A number of initiatives are underway to improve security, reliability, and patient safety by focusing on improving EHR usability.


Usability is among the most difficult characteristics of software to measure, making an objective assessment of a product’s usability difficult; however, the importance of improving EHR user experience is seen as a critical goal. Therefore, certain regulatory measures have been adopted as a way of promoting usability in health IT software products.

  • The 2015 Edition Certification requires safety-enhanced design, which requires developers of certified health IT products to adopt user-centered design processes.
  • The 21st Century Cures Act prioritizes certain aspects of health IT by requiring transparent reporting on usability, security, and functionality (Sec. 4002).


ONC, NIST, and other public and private organizations are focusing on developing resources for health IT vendors and users to optimize the user experience.

  • The HIMSS Usability Maturity Model helps health leaders assess levels of usability and build toward more advanced levels.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) health IT usability initiative is focused on establishing a framework that defines and assesses health IT usability.
  • The Digital Communications Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs maintains the web site as a resource for user experience best practices and guidelines.
  • ONC funded the SHARP-C project, which produced the Inspired EHRs book.