NIST Releases Usability Guide for Pediatric EHRs

Usability of Pediatric EHR Systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory federal agency that operates as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Established in 1902 the NIST core mission is to advance science, standards, and technology  to enhance economic security. NIST carries out this mission in part by conducting research to help U.S. companies improve products and services.

NIST recently released an EHR usability guide to help make pediatric EHR systems more innovative. The authors of the report write:

Pediatric patients have unique characteristics that translate into higher complexity for providing care with both paper-based charts and EHRs. As such, EHRs have the potential to reduce complexity with advanced decision support features, and thus improve patient safety. Meeting this potential will likely require a specialized assessment of the unique challenges in providing pediatric care with EHRs, and in particular, unique usability issues associated with critical user interactions.It is not surprising, then, that the adoption of EHRs by pediatric providers has lagged behind adoption for general population providers. 

The executive summary notes that the research details recommendations to enhance EHR usability when supporting pediatric patient care and also identifies promising areas for EHR innovation. The report also illustrates unique pediatric considerations in the context of clinical scenarios. The 44-page report, A Human Factors Guide to Enhance EHR Usability of Critical User Interactions when Supporting Pediatric Patient Care makes a number of suggestions including:

  • Displaying data in menu items and on charts or graphs without truncating key information
  • Enabling one-click access to the growth chart in the standard display format
  • Removing automated changes to adult doses for medication orders
  • Protecting against ordering medications in the wrong units
The report highlights unique pediatric considerations in clinical scenarios to provide guidance for user-centered design and usability.

Visit the NIST website for more information. Download the PDF of the report here.