Why EHRs suck at User Experience

vector downloaded from Freepik

Electronic Health Record systems have clearly reached a point where they couldn’t get worse with user experience, now let’s see what are the major reasons EHR’s are still struggling to show empathy on it’s user base.

They are too old

If you could take a list of top 20 oldest software products still used, then at least 40% of that list would have EHR systems that were developed a way long back. The race to create a great EHR system between companies really doesn’t care about a user-centered design. The Stakeholders too clearly did not have a reason to worry about user’s feelings, they just wanted a product that could get the work done using a computer which was earlier done using a paper.

Too Afraid of Change

When you continue ignoring a problem for a long time, there are chances where you get comfortable with having it. Though the product has a bad UX when it has a considerable number of a large user base, the stakeholders dodge the risk of attempting a change. They’d rather prefer to stay with the same slower growth rate, than trying for a higher one. Sometimes all a product need is just to be in the race, than to win it.

Might lose customers

The problem with fixing a product with bad UX is, it’s hard to fix without hurting the users more.

Imagine being a user who has spent hours trying to figure out their way through an ancient product resisting hard not to smash the computers. Now even a minor reposition of a button in the system would piss them off badly.
They clearly will not have the patience to learn a product from the start again, which might make them dump the system and move on to a better one.

Focused on User requests

“If I had asked my customers what they wanted,” they’d have said a faster horse.” -Mr.Ford

The above quotes say it all, It’s really not a good move to ask the users what they want when all they care about is brighter colors and fancier fonts. At every iteration, the possible improvements an EHR could get is an overloaded drop down list or an even more clustered Nav bar.

A good UX is like getting a Happy Birthday text on your birthday. You really don’t care about it, though it makes you happy. Likewise the user should also be made to feel happy about using the product even though they couldn’t realize in explicitly

Complex systems

EHR’s continues to get complex each year and it’s hardly difficult to not to screw up the existing features while implementing a new one. Unless carefully brainstormed, trying to repair a single usability issue could end up in a four higher priority issues. Even lean approaches succeed only after multiple iterations. Early systems clearly lacked a proper user flow making the user wonder where they are and what they are looking at.

Many EHR systems have now started valuing the role of User Experience in their products. Let’s just hope they end up treating their users well. Please feel free post your questions and comments below :)