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Healthcare, e-prescribing, heuristic evaluation

My Role

Usability research intern


January 2020 to May 2020 (~4 months)

Executive Summary

This project was completed during my Usability Testing class at Kennesaw State University. I worked with eazyScripts to evaluate their e-prescribing user interface (UI). The software enables doctors to view, add, and manage prescriptions digitally. I focused on the process of adding a new prescription.


  • Coordinate with stakeholders remotely

  • Understand the landscape of e-prescribing software

  • Identify and understand every variable associated with prescriptions

  • Provide concise, easy-to-implement recommendations

Business Context

Before I began my evaluation, I needed to understand the basics of e-prescribing software and the needs of primary users.

What is the product?

eazyScripts sells an e-prescribing product that integrates into a physician's Electronic Health Record (EHR). However, the full software was outside the scope of this project. So, I reviewed the page doctors use to create a new prescription. 

Why does the product need me?

The "New Prescription" page had all the necessary fields and options, but the information hierarchy was disorganized. So, I was asked to review the current design and propose recommendations to improve the page's usability.

What was the deliverable?

I created a concise report summarizing my research and recommendations for improving the "New Prescription" page.

Evaluation Methods

I used several principles and standards for evaluating the UI. This systematic approach ensured my evaluation was comprehensive.

10 Usability Heuristics

I also used Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. These guidelines cover fundamental design principles to ensure the largest usability problems are fixed. I go through each heuristic in the next section.

What is Usability?

The term usability is commonly used but rarely defined. So, I rely on the 5 Dimensions of Usability by Whitney Quesenbery. They help me evaluate specific problems and provide actionable recommendations. The 5 dimensions are:

  • Effectiveness: How completely and accurately the work is completed and the user goals are reached

  • Efficiency: How quickly the work can be completed

  • Engagement: How pleasant and satisfying is it to use

  • Error Tolerance: How well the product prevents errors and helps the user recover from mistakes

  • Easy to Learn: How well the product supports both initial orientation and continued learning

Severity Scale

After I identify each problem based on the heuristics, I rank its impact on the system's usability.


Not a problem: no impact on the usability and does not require further evaluation


Cosmetic problem only: does not need to be fixed unless extra time is available


Minor Usability Problem: fixing this should be given low priority


Major Usability Problem: Important to fix and should be given high priority


Usability Catastrophe: Imperative to fix this before product can be released

I decide the rating based on three main factors:

  • Frequency: Is the problem common or not?

  • Impact: Is it easy or difficult for the users to overcome?

  • Persistence: Is it a one-time problem or a repeated one?

Top Selling Points

Before beginning my critique, I like to identify the best parts of the current design.

The current interface is simple, fast, and intuitive

Based on my discussions with subject matter expert (SME) Reed Liggin, the current interface doesn't require complex initial training. It can be introduced and explained in about 30 minutes.

The product can easily integrate into a client’s current Electronic Health Record (EHR)

The majority of eazyScripts clients are purchasing this software to fill an e-prescribing gap in their current EHR. A simple integration into their current system is more lucrative than creating an new, comprehensive product.

Formulary checks put more accountability on doctors

Th product can conduct a rapid formulary check to ensure each prescription is covered by the patient’s insurance. Non-covered, hand-written prescriptions decrease the efficiency of the office or hospital. In this sense, the software is extremely effective at preventing the error of non-formulary drugs being prescribed.


A surprise or fascination to me was the mindset of doctors with this process. The SME Reed Liggin explained that doctors dislike this system because it slows them down. They prefer to write prescriptions. If they write something that’s not covered, it’s not their problem. If the nurse or pharmacy can’t read their handwriting, it’s not their problem. Plus the age of some doctors makes them unwilling or unenthusiastic about learning new software no matter how simple it is.

Lessons Learned

  • It's challenging to interpret design instructions from people not familiar with design principles

  • I struggle with information architecture and need to study it more on my own

  • Stakeholders (understandably) don't consider usability when setting business requirements

  • Healthcare is an incredibly complex field, but I love the challenge and want to have a career in that industry

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