Reliability and usability are among the most important components of any software system, especially in healthcare.  To successfully integrate an electronic health records (EHR) system into a busy hospital or clinic, the program must offer both reliable and usable features and be seamlessly implemented.

In healthcare there are key functionalities of an EHR that cannot and should not be overlooked.  These critical components are needed to improve patient care while educating providers of the overall system.  The components are defined as:

•    Effectiveness
•    Efficiency
•    User Satisfaction

Effectiveness, as it relates to EHR usability, is the accuracy and the overall completeness in which its users can complete jobs and tasks that are needed within the realm and scope of the functions of the facility.  Effectiveness deals with accuracy, and as seen in the health industry, this is paramount to success.

In order for an EHR system to be effective, it must communicate clearly and consistently to the user.  There should be little to no technical jargon and visual clues should prompt the user on the various steps to take.  In the event of an error message, the problem should be addressed with no technical wording, but shown in an intuitive and highly effective manner.  If there is no effectiveness in a software program, the user runs the risk of neglecting important and useful patient information.

The second key functionality of a usable EHR system is efficiency.  Efficiency is the speed at which the users can complete organized tasks and jobs through the use of an EHR system.  Certain EHR systems require that users complete multiple tasks in order to accomplish a job, but a more practical solution is to dilute the tasks into one action.

Scheduling is one such function that can be time consuming and cumbersome if the EHR system does not condense the number of tasks involved to complete the event.  Simplicity must be interfaced alongside efficiency in order for the system to work effectively.  Scheduling, editing, deleting and viewing appointments are necessary for the system to work in an efficient manner and the platform must allow for this type of process in an all-in-one functionality.

User satisfaction is the last key component when determining if an EHR is usable and reliable.  While this factor may be subjective, it is very important in addressing process and outcome.  In order for an EHR system to rank high in the category of user satisfaction the functionality must be effective, efficient and free from highly technical jargon that is difficult for the user to understand.

Personalization is also critical when it comes to gaining a high rating in user compatibility and satisfaction.  When users can configure personalized settings in the system menus, screens and reports, their comfort level improves.

Personalization is highly important to the individual user as well as the organization.  In a personalized EHR system, organizations are able to resist from the use of generic intakes, referrals and forms and make them a part of the facility. This improves satisfaction among users and the overall organization.