OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether systematically developed clinical decision supports provide usability benefit or decreased cognitive workload with their use.
METHODS: Seven surgeons at a pediatric hospital at different levels of training (3 residents, 3 fellows, and 1 attending) were randomized to use either a historical control (ad hoc developed order set) or a systematically developed order set for postoperative management of appendicitis in children. After a washout period, they were crossed over to the other order set. Participants were videorecorded and completed postsurveys, including the System Usability Scale and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration-Task Load Index.
RESULTS: Participants unanimously preferred using systematically developed order sets. These order sets resulted in higher usability scores (75 ± 10 vs 60 ± 19; P < .05) and lower cognitive workload scores (37.7 ± 15 vs 52.2 ± 12; P < .05), with comparable amounts of time spent, mouse clicks, and free text entry. Orders generated were more likely to conform to established clinical guidelines.
CONCLUSIONS: Systematically designed order sets provide a reduction in cognitive workload and order variation in the context of improved system usability and improved guideline adherence. The systematically designed order set did not improve time spent, reduce mouse clicks, or reduce free text entry.
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