Procuring interoperability at the expense of usability: A case study of UK National Programme for IT assurance process
Krause P., De Lusignan S.
Background: The allure of interoperable systems is that they should improve patient safety and make health services more efficient. The UK's National Programme for IT has made great strides in achieving interoperability; through linkage to a national electronic spine. However, there has been criticism of the usability of the applications in the clinical environment. Method: Analysis of the procurement and assurance process to explore whether they predetermine usability. Results: Processes separate developers from users, and test products against theoretical assurance models of use rather than simulate or pilot in a clinical environment. The current process appears to be effective for back office systems and high risk applications, but too inflexible for developing applications for the clinical setting. Conclusions: For clinical applications agile techniques are more appropriate. Usability testing should become an integrated part of the contractual process and be introduced earlier in the development process. © 2010 European Federation for Medical Informatics. All rights reserved.