Assessing the Usability of Six Data Entry Mobile Interfaces for Caregivers: A Randomized Trial

  • Lovis C
  • Ehrler F
  • Walesa M
  • et al.
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Background: There is an increased demand in hospitals for tools, such as dedicated mobile device apps, that enable the recording of clinical information in an electronic format at the patient’s bedside. Although the human-machine interface design on mobile devices strongly influences the accuracy and effectiveness of data recording, there is still a lack of evidence as to which interface design offers the best guarantee for ease of use and quality of recording. Therefore, interfaces need to be assessed both for usability and reliability because recording errors can seriously impact the overall level of quality of the data and affect the care provided. Objective: In this randomized crossover trial, we formally compared 6 handheld device interfaces for both speed of data entry and accuracy of recorded information. Three types of numerical data commonly recorded at the patient’s bedside were used to evaluate the interfaces. Methods: In total, 150 health care professionals from the University Hospitals of Geneva volunteered to record a series of randomly generated data on each of the 6 interfaces provided on a smartphone. The interfaces were presented in a randomized order as part of fully automated data entry scenarios. During the data entry process, accuracy and effectiveness were automatically recorded by the software. Results: Various types of errors occurred, which ranged from 0.7% for the most reliable design to 18.5% for the least reliable one. The length of time needed for data recording ranged from 2.81 sec to 14.68 sec, depending on the interface. The numeric keyboard interface delivered the best performance for pulse data entry with a mean time of 3.08 sec (SD 0.06) and an accuracy of 99.3%. Conclusions: Our study highlights the critical impact the choice of an interface can have on the quality of recorded data. Selecting an interface should be driven less by the needs of specific end-user groups or the necessity to facilitate the developer’s task (eg, by opting for default solutions provided by commercial platforms) than by the level of speed and accuracy an interface can provide for recording information. An important effort must be made to properly validate mobile device interfaces intended for use in the clinical setting. In this regard, our study identified the numeric keyboard, among the proposed designs, as the most accurate interface for entering specific numerical values. This is an important step toward providing clearer guidelines on which interface to choose for the appropriate use of handheld device interfaces in the health care setting. [JMIR Human Factors 2015;2(2):e15]




Lovis, C., Ehrler, F., Walesa, M., Wipfli, R., Sarrey, E., & Haller, G. (2016). Assessing the Usability of Six Data Entry Mobile Interfaces for Caregivers: A Randomized Trial. JMIR Human Factors, 2(2), e15.

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