Physicians and their Patience: Redefining Healthcare Relationships through Readability Optimization
TimeThursday, April 152:31pm - 2:32pm EDT
DescriptionIncreasing use of various interfaces has resulted in the need for a comprehensive reconstruction of operations for human factors and other professionals. When professionals adopt the new technologies that come with these interfaces, there is the issue of new implementations of tasks at the possible expense of precision and efficiency. Essentially, this issue can become counterintuitive to the original intent behind the creation of these new interfaces. There are countless examples of this within the field of Human-Computer Interaction including driving assistance (Mendoza et al., 2011), aviation (Kaber et al., 2002), and gaming (Desurvire et al., 2004). Fairbanks & Caplan (2004) detail a call to action for the need of human factors professionals in the medical field as there is a severe lack of usability testing and poor interface design in emergency settings. In these emergency settings, medical professionals do not have the time to figure out how to use their equipment (Fairbanks & Caplan, 2004). This problem is easily solved with the implementation of Human Factors professionals and usability testing, outlined in a seven-step process (Fairbanks & Caplan, 2004). It can be argued that change that negatively impacts workflow is worse than no change at all, especially when change leads to the misconception that previous systems are being improved upon.
In the medical community, an estimated 75% of United States hospitals had transitioned to the use of at least a basic electronic health record (EHR) system by 2014 (Adler-Milstein et al., 2015). More than half of hospitals that reported to have EHR systems reported experiencing challenges with their systems such as IT issues, financial issues, or cooperative issues with physicians (Adler-Milstein et al., 2015). This leaves medical practitioners with the task of reworking their record-keeping systems while still maintaining their patients’ health.
The exigency of streamlining and standardizing record keeping has been apparent in the medical community since as early as 1968. Physicians must take a multifarious approach when managing and treating multiple patients as well as keeping records of them among other time-consuming tasks (Weed, 1968). Restructuring the handling of medical record-keeping has been a long-time necessity in the medical community that is yet to be perfected. Future research should first look to develop a uniform format of EHR systems, as there is immense variety and superfluous features among systems (Weiner, 2019). Another step for future research would be the development of EHR systems that can be used proficiently. Currently, the task of entering data into an EHR system is incredibly tedious taking an average of 106 steps equating to twenty-two minutes to complete a task within the system (Saitwal et al., 2010).
Increasing legibility has been shown to produce faster reading times and improved recollection among readers. Font type alone has been shown to have a significant effect on a reader’s recollection (Gasser et al., 2005). In 2005, Gasser et al. completed a study using undergraduates who read an article on Tuberculosis. These participants, who were not considered to be experts in the field, saw a 9% improvement rate on reading speed (Gasser et al., 2005). If experts, such as physicians or other persons in the medical field, were examined on related content their reading speed could see a larger improvement since they have a better understanding of medical texts through working in the field. In a more recent study, participants were able to read up to 51% faster in their fastest font as compared to their slowest font (Wallace et al., 2020). Both studies indicate that legibility is highly variable and could greatly enhance reading speed and shorten reading time. Legibility can be used to optimize the efficacy of the EHR system and could potentially lead to increased communication levels and promote trust between patients and their healthcare providers.
Speed and comprehension will be examined concomitantly as participants read through texts containing different levels of legibility on the Electronic Health Record system. Novices (undergraduate students) and experts (fourth-year medical students) will also be tested to measure if having a substantial knowledge level of the field will have an impact on legibility or the rate of legibility improvement. Through examining the effects of legibility on EHRs, we can examine the increasing efficiency of EHRs – leaving physicians with more time for more important tasks.