Janey Barnes, PhD at User-View Inc., is the chair of the HIMSS EHR Usability Task Force, which provides education, tools and best practices related to health IT usability to health IT stakeholders.
Dr. Barnes is a principal and human factors specialist at User-View Inc. She is responsible for obtaining and managing projects and conducting state-of- the-art, user-centered design and evaluation for client programs. Project work includes user-based research (from requirements gathering to usability testing) and iterative interaction design. She leads client programs that encompass every aspect of human factors - from design research, testing and evaluation, user interface design to hardware and workspace design.
Throughout her career Dr. Barnes has worked closely with many commercial and government clients designing and evaluating user interfaces for healthcare applications, medical devices, in-vehicle electronic displays, consumer electronic products, and complex software.
HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?
Barnes: I first attended an Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition in 2005. I initially attended to network with other human factors professionals, and was surprised that I could not find others discussing how human factors methods were being employed to improve health IT. Several years later, the Usability Task Force was formed. Once I found this group, it became my “community” within HIMSS.
HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?
Barnes: The most rewarding aspect of my involvement with HIMSS has been the opportunity to work with many amazing people. I have learned so much from my colleagues on the task force and from the network of professionals I’ve met through HIMSS. Coming into the task force, I saw myself being in the role of helping others learn about evaluating and improving EHR usability; however, I find myself “on the learning side” much more often than I imagined. My colleagues on the task force represent a variety of disciplines, sectors, and roles with the industry. These diverse perspectives provide a rich environment for continuous learning. The opportunities I have had because of my participation with HIMSS have challenged me and allowed me to grow both personally and professionally.
HIMSS: Please describe some of the milestone events in your career.
Barnes: Certainly when it comes to EHR usability, an important milestone was co-authoring the white paper, “Defining and Testing EMR Usability: Principles and Proposed Methods of EMR Usability Evaluation and Rating,” (2009) with Jeff Belden and Rebecca Grayson. Not only did the process of writing the paper allow me to work with and get to know talented team members from many disciplines, but the attention the paper received in the industry provided opportunities to interact with a wide range of health IT professionals on the topic.
Another milestone has been serving as chair of the Usability Task Force. I can’t say enough about the talent and drive of the members on the task force. I am proud to help facilitate the efforts of the group, as they work to educate the HIMSS membership about evaluating usability and developing tools that can be used to improve the usability of health IT. My milestone events revolved around the relationships that I have formed.
HIMSS: What do you hope to accomplish this year as chair of the HIT Usability Task Force?
Barnes: Since the formation of the group, the task force has been a very active group and has provided strong leadership regarding health IT usability. My hope is that I can help keep the momentum. This means:
- Continuing education activities, especially in terms of how to carry out iterative activities that will have a positive impact on the usability of products;
- Continuing to create tools that aid teams in carrying out activities that will have a positive impact on the usability of products; and
- Working to extend the focus beyond the role vendors play in improving health IT usability. All the stakeholders and end-users need to be included. This means engaging leaders in healthcare institutions and providers to take ownership in improving health IT usability. We also need to engage consumers, patients, and caregivers in the processes aimed at improving health IT usability.
HIMSS: What are the most notable changes you've seen in the field of health IT over the course of your career?
Barnes: When I first got involved with HIMSS, usability was not part of the conversation. I remember I could not find anyone who was talking about how to impact the usability of a product or process. The first time I found someone talking about human factors at HIMSS, it was in the context of implementations. I remember having conversations at that time about how you might have a great implementation, but if the system is plagued with problems, what is the point? Of course, we were all in agreement. These conversations led me to the Usability Task Force, which was just forming, and “we birds of a feather” were beginning to flock together. Since then, so many changes have taken place.
During the first few years on the task force, most of the conversation in the industry focused on what is usability and how can you measure usability. Now, members of the industry understand that usability is a measurable outcome related to efficiency, effectiveness, and user satisfaction.
In the current era of meaningful use and safety enhanced design, I see growth in terms of usability maturity. We are moving from an emphasis on measuring usability to embracing and incorporating processes aimed at improving usability. Embracing processes aimed at improving usability based on end-user needs and workflows are not only going to improve products from a safety perspective, but will also increase the efficiency and effectiveness of health IT, which in turn will improve patient outcomes.
I also see as we build systems that focus on meeting clinical end-user needs, we are moving to consider the patient as an active stakeholder, participant, and end-user of health IT, who also has needs that need to be met. This movement to a system-level approach, or an approach that takes into account the needs of all those involved, brings us closer to transformative and disruptive improvements in the industry.
HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?
Barnes: My niche, usability, is a small section of healthcare and health IT. Just think of the spectrum; interoperability, security, implementation, standards, and the list goes on. My advice is, get involved. Find those folks who share your interests and get involved. No matter how much or little time you have, the returns from interacting with those who share your interests are invaluable. Finding folks with similar interests and connecting with these folks will provide you with a community. And if you are looking for a place within HIMSS to get involved, look up the Usability Task Force.