Background: Older adults are at risk for inadequate emergency department (ED) pain care. Unrelieved acute pain is associated with poor outcomes. Clinical decision support systems (CDSS) hold promise to improve patient care, but CDSS quality varies widely, particularly when usability evaluation is not employed. Objective: To conduct an iterative usability and redesign process of a novel geriatric abdominal pain care CDSS. We hypothesized this process would result in the creation of more usable and favorable pain care interventions. Methods: Thirteen emergency physicians familiar with the Electronic Health Record (EHR) in use at the study site were recruited. Over a 10-week period, 17 1-hour usability test sessions were conducted across 3 rounds of testing. Participants were given 3 patient scenarios and provided simulated clinical care using the EHR, while interacting with the CDSS interventions. Quantitative System Usability Scores (SUS), favorability scores and qualitative narrative feedback were collected for each session. Using a multi-step review process by an interdisciplinary team, positive and negative usability issues in effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction were considered, prioritized and incorporated in the iterative redesign process of the CDSS. Video analysis was used to determine the appropriateness of the CDS appearances during simulated clinical care. Results: Over the 3 rounds of usability evaluations and subsequent redesign processes, mean SUS progressively improved from 74.8 to 81.2 to 88.9; mean favorability scores improved from 3.23 to 4.29 (1 worst, 5 best). Video analysis revealed that, in the course of the iterative redesign processes, rates of physicians' acknowledgment of CDS interventions increased, however most rates of desired actions by physicians (such as more frequent pain score updates) decreased. Conclusion: The iterative usability redesign process was instrumental in improving the usability of the CDSS; if implemented in practice, it could improve geriatric pain care. The usability evaluation process led to improved acknowledgement and favorability. Incorporating usability testing when designing CDSS interventions for studies may be effective to enhance clinician use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-142
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Clinical Informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Mar 2016


  • Acute pain
  • Aged
  • Clinical decision support systems
  • Computerized
  • Decision support techniques
  • Man-machine systems
  • Medical record systems


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