1494 Usability of the Charting Interface of Three Dental Software Applications
T.P. THYVALIKAKATH, and T. SCHLEYER, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Dental software applications must be designed with a focus on the ergonomic and cognitive requirements of the clinicians who provide patient care. Usability testing is a method to formally quantify ease-of-use and task-appropriateness of software, and can identify design problems which hinder adoption and use.

Objectives: Evaluate the ease-of-use of the charting interface of three dental software applications through usability testing measuring task success, feature success, task completion time and usability problems.

Methods: Five participants each (1 full-time faculty member, 2 practicing dentists and 2 senior dental students) were asked to complete 9 clinical documentation tasks using EagleSoft (Patterson Dental, St. Paul, MN), PracticeWorks and SoftDent (both Kodak Corp., Rochester, NY), respectively. Participants had prior experience in using computers, but not charting programs. They verbalized their thoughts during the experiment; a researcher recorded user actions, utterances and non-verbal clues. Each session was recorded using audio and screen capture software.

Results: Participants successfully completed 64% of the tasks in EagleSoft, 88% in PracticeWorks and 36% in SoftDent. Most commonly failed tasks included charting a three-unit bridge, switching from the restorative to the periodontal chart, and charting pocket depths in one quadrant. Feature success, which describes the completion of steps needed to accomplish a task, was impeded by design problems, such as insufficient feedback from the program and lack of error prevention. Mean task completion times ranged from 1:45 min [SD = 58 sec.] for simple tasks to 2:13 min. [SD = 53 sec.] for complex tasks. Usability problems were caused by complex screen and interaction design, lack of guidance for data entry, and interface inconsistencies.

Conclusion: Clinical charting interfaces suffer from a varying degree of usability problems. User-centered design methodologies should be applied to improve dental software applications to facilitate adoption in the clinical environment.

Grant support: NLM 5T15LM07059-17, K12 HD049109

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