Evaluating the usability of speech recognition to create clinical documentation using a commercial electronic health record

Tobias Hodgson*, Farah Magrabi, Enrico Coiera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To conduct a usability study exploring the value of using speech recognition (SR) for clinical documentation tasks within an electronic health record (EHR) system. Methods: Thirty-five emergency department clinicians completed a system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire. The study was undertaken after participants undertook randomly allocated clinical documentation tasks using keyboard and mouse (KBM) or SR. SUS scores were analyzed and the results with KBM were compared to SR results. Results: Significant difference in SUS scores between EHR system use with and without SR were observed (KBM 67, SR 61; P = 0.045; CI, 0.1 to 12.0). Nineteen of 35 participants scored higher for EHR with KBM, 11 higher for EHR with SR and 5 gave the same score for both. Factor analysis showed no significant difference in scores for the sub-element of usability (EHR with KBM 65, EHR with SR 62; P = 0.255; CI, −2.6 to 9.5). Scores for the sub-element of learnability were significantly different (KBM 72, SR 55; P < 0.001; CI, 9.8 to 23.5). A significant correlation was found between the perceived usability of the two system configurations (EHR with KBM or SR) and the efficiency of documentation (time to document) (P = 0.002; CI, 10.5 to −0.1) but not with safety (number of errors) (P = 0.90; CI, −2.3 to 2.6). Discussion: SR was associated with significantly reduced overall usability scores, even though it is often positioned as ease of use technology. SR was perceived to impose larger costs in terms of learnability via training and support requirements for EHR based documentation when compared to using KBM. Lower usability scores were significantly associated with longer documentation times. Conclusion: The usability of EHR systems with any input modality is an area that requires continued development. The addition of an SR component to an EHR system may cause a significant reduction in terms of perceived usability by clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Electronic health records
  • Integration
  • Learnability
  • Speech recognition
  • System usability

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