Usability in a medical technology context assessment of methods for usability evaluation of medical equipment
Journal article, 2006
The increased complexity of medical technology makes usability an important selection criterion when new equipment is purchased. However, this requires an understanding of what usability is in a medical technology context and what usability evaluation methods are suitable. A questionnaire was used to investigate what users of medical technology regard as the largest component of usability. The component 'difficult to make errors' was regarded as being 30% of overall usability. The components 'easy to learn', 'efficient to use', 'easy to remember' made up 20% each of overall usability. Satisfaction only made up 10% of overall usability. Four common methods, hierarchical task analysis, cognitive walkthrough, heuristic evaluation and usability tests were evaluated according to thoroughness, validity, reliability, cost effectiveness and clarity. Usability tests are recommended to be the primary method in usability evaluations at hospitals, as they fulfil the criteria and address the 'difficult to make errors' aspect of overall usability. Hierarchical task analysis and cognitive walkthrough fulfil some criteria. Cognitive walkthrough also addresses the 'difficult to make errors' aspect. Relevance to industry: There is an increasing awareness of the need for higher usability of medical technology. This requires an understanding of what usability is and what usability evaluation methods are suitable, both in the design process and when medical technology is purchased at hospitals.