Detection and characterization of usability problems in structured data entry interfaces in dentistry

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This is an article review of a publication in PubMed.


The adoption of electronic health records (EHR) in dentistry has brought to light many of the barriers with its meaningful use. Poor usability is one of the major barriers faced by dentists preventing the optimum use of EHR for decision support, quality improvement and reuse for research purposes. The lack of standard diagnostic terminology is a major challenge to entering structured data into an EHR. [1]

The authors in this article identified the challenges to the user when entering data into a dental EHR and analyzed these challenges.


The authors conducted their research on usability challenges with a dental EHR in collaboration with Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) since both schools used the same EHR system and adopted the EZ codes dental diagnostic terminology. Participants involved were third and fourth year dental students and post graduate dentists.


The authors reported the inefficiency with usability related to errors in completing a complex task, interface related problems such as lack of visibility and inconsistent use of UI widgets. The authors revealed that only 22-41 percent of dental students and dentists were able to complete a task successfully while entering the diagnoses in an EHR.


The usability issues were identified and analyzed to help improve usability. These challenges prevented most users from entering data successfully. The issues with user interface and terminology needed to be improved to create an efficient clinical workflow.


It is noted that the interface has to be user friendly for dental health information to be correctly entered and diagnoses in an EHR due to increasing use and adoption of EHR's. The terminologies associated with the dental EHR have to be standard, structured and even intuitive to the user to provide efficient workflow and to treat patients effectively with an EHR.

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  1. Detection and characterization of usability problems in structured data entry interfaces in dentistry.