Evaluation is a challenging but necessary part of the development cycle of clinical information systems like the electronic medical records (EMR) system. It is believed that such evaluations should include multiple perspectives, be comparative and employ both qualitative and quantitative methods. Self-administered questionnaires are frequently used as a quantitative evaluation method in medical informatics, but very few validated questionnaires address clinical use of EMR systems.
We have developed a task-oriented questionnaire for evaluating EMR systems from the clinician's perspective. The key feature of the questionnaire is a list of 24 general clinical tasks. It is applicable to physicians of most specialties and covers essential parts of their information-oriented work. The task list appears in two separate sections, about EMR use and task performance using the EMR, respectively. By combining these sections, the evaluator may estimate the potential impact of the EMR system on health care delivery. The results may also be compared across time, site or vendor. This paper describes the development, performance and validation of the questionnaire. Its performance is shown in two demonstration studies (n = 219 and 80). Its content is validated in an interview study (n = 10), and its reliability is investigated in a test-retest study (n = 37) and a scaling study (n = 31).
In the interviews, the physicians found the general clinical tasks in the questionnaire relevant and comprehensible. The tasks were interpreted concordant to their definitions. However, the physicians found questions about tasks not explicitly or only partially supported by the EMR systems difficult to answer. The two demonstration studies provided unambiguous results and low percentages of missing responses. In addition, criterion validity was demonstrated for a majority of task-oriented questions. Their test-retest reliability was generally high, and the non-standard scale was found symmetric and ordinal.
This questionnaire is relevant for clinical work and EMR systems, provides reliable and interpretable results, and may be used as part of any evaluation effort involving the clinician's perspective of an EMR system.