The cognitive complexity of a provider order entry interface.

Jan Horsky, David R. Kaufman, Vimla L. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Computer-based provider order entry (POE) can reduce the frequency of preventable medical errors. However, overly complex interfaces frequently pose a challenge to users and impede clinical efficacy. We present a cognitive analysis of clinician interaction with a commercial POE system. Our investigation was informed by the distributed resources model, a novel approach designed to describe the dimensions of user interfaces that introduce unnecessary cognitive complexity. This approach characterizes the relative distribution of user's internal representations and external representations embodied in the system or environmental artifacts. The research consisted of two component analyses: a modified cognitive walkthrough evaluation and a simulated clinical ordering task performed by seven physicians. The analysis revealed that the configuration of resources placed unnecessarily heavy cognitive demands on the user, especially those who lacked a robust conceptual model of the system. The resources model was also used to account for patterns of errors produced by clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-298
Number of pages5
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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