Error message Errors - Don't blame the user

One of the easiest ways to improve the usability (and perceived usability) of a web application is to improve the text that appears on the screen specifically around labels, embedded assistance and error messages.

Usability is the most important "ility."

The lack of usability of electronic health records (EHRs) and healthcare IT applications, in general, has been in the news again. A research report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzed voluntary error reports associated with EHR systems and found that problems with EHR usability may have directly resulted in patient harm (Howe JL ; Adams KT ; Hettinger AZ; et al. Electronic health record usability issues and potential contribution to patient harm. JAMA. 2018; 319: 1276-1278).

The best error message is one that you don't have to show!

Avoid errors by providing embedded assistance on more complex controls.

Deep within many of the systems we evaluated lies a complex, and sometimes non-standard UI control feature that is critical to performing an important task.

In the ONC 2014 Edition Summative tests, this control was usually related to the “Clinical information reconciliation task.” The control was usually some type of “Shuttle” widget where the user selects multiple items from one or more lists and places them into a single reconciled list (of Problems, Allergies, and Medications)

Disable; Hide, or Grey Out?

While working on a UX strategy for a large enterprise data portal, we recently had an interested conversation with some developers around, based upon permissions, when to show things, when to hide things and when to show things as disabled or “greyed out.”