Creation of a Usability Engineering Laboratory to Analyze the Potential Impact of Information Technology-Induced Errors and Breaches of Security in Healthcare

Research Areas: End System Security

Principal Investigator: James Anderson

The major objective of this research is to create a low cost portable usability engineering laboratory that can be used to rapidly evaluate the usability, safety and security of medical information systems such as electronic medical records and e-prescribing. This proposal will describe how simulations of clinical activity (involving human subjects carrying out clinical tasks) and mathematical computer-based simulations can be linked to forecast the impact of interface design features upon medical errors and security breaches using healthcare information technology (HIT). There are two phases to the research.. In Phase 1 a clinical simulation will be conducted involving physicians who will be asked to use a hand-held prescription writing application to enter and record medications administered during a simulated clinical interaction. In this phase of the study, data arising from the clinical simulation will be collected and then analyzed using qualitative approaches to assess the relationship between aspects of interface design (i.e., usability problems) and subject medication error and security breaches. In Phase 2, the base rates for error associated with specific types of usability problems (from Phase 1) will form the input into a computer-based mathematical simulation. This work is unique in health care as it directly connects two distinct forms of simulations – (1) clinical simulations of user behavior and (2) mathematical simulation to forecast error rates over time (based on parameters obtained from an empirical study involving the use of clinical simulation.  The research will examine the impact of aspects of interface design upon medical error rates over a period of weeks and months.


Other PIs: Vince Duffy (Purdue University) Andre Kushniruk (University of Victoria, BC, Canada)

Representative Publications

  • Kushniruk, A.W., E.M. Borycki, J.G. Anderson and M.M. Anderson, “Designing and Integrating Clinical Computer-Based Simulation in Health Informatics: From Real-World to Virtual Reality, In V. Kordic (Ed.), Modeling, Simulation and Optimization, Vienna: Intech Publishing,  2010, pp. 1-22.

  • Borcki, E.M., A. Kushniruk, E. Keay, J. Nicoll, J.G. Anderson, and M.M. Anderson, “Toward an Integrated Simulation Approach for Predicting and Preventing Technology-Induced Errors in Healthcare: Implications for Healthcare Decision Makers,” Healthcare Quarterly, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 90-96.

Keywords: healthcare, it-induced errors, usability engineering

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