JMIR Publications

JMIR Human Factors

Making health care interventions and technologies usable, safe, and effective


Journal Description

JMIR Human Factors (JHF) is a new spin-off journal of JMIR, a leading open access eHealth journal (Impact Factor 2014: 3.4). 
JMIR Human Factors is a multidisciplinary journal with contributions from medical researchers, engineers, and social scientists.
JMIR Human Factors focuses on understanding how the behaviour and thinking of humans can influence and shape the design of health care interventions and technologies, and how the design can be evaluated and improved to make health care interventions and technologies usable, safe, and effective.
JHF aspires to lead health care towards a culture of testing and safety. All articles are professionally copyedited and typeset, ready for indexing in PubMed/PubMed Central. Possible contributions include usability studies and heuristic evaluations, studies concerning ergonomics and error prevention, design studies for medical devices and healthcare systems/workflows, enhancing teamwork through Human Factors based teamwork training, measuring non-technical skills in staff like leadership, communication, situational awareness and teamwork, and healthcare policies and procedures to reduce errors and increase safety. Reviews, viewpoint papers and tutorials are as welcome as original research.

Editorial Board members are currently being recruited, please contact us if you are interested ( at


Recent Articles:

  • High-fidelity prototype version of Loop with Patient and Team and Team Only toggle from message compose box.

    In the Loop: The Organization of Team-Based Communication in a Patient-Centered Clinical Collaboration System


    Background: We describe the development and evaluation of a secure Web-based system for the purpose of collaborative care called Loop. Loop assembles the team of care with the patient as an integral member of the team in a secure space. Objective: The objectives of this paper are to present the iterative design of the separate views for health care providers (HCPs) within each patient’s secure space and examine patients’, caregivers’, and HCPs’ perspectives on this separate view for HCP-only communication. Methods: The overall research program includes cycles of ethnography, prototyping, usability testing, and pilot testing. This paper describes the usability testing phase that directly informed development. A descriptive qualitative approach was used to analyze participant perspectives that emerged during usability testing. Results: During usability testing, we sampled 89 participants from three user groups: 23 patients, 19 caregivers, and 47 HCPs. Almost all perspectives from the three user groups supported the need for an HCP-only communication view. In an earlier prototype, the visual presentation caused confusion among HCPs when reading and composing messages about whether a message was visible to the patient. Usability testing guided us to design a more deliberate distinction between posting in the Patient and Team view and the Health Care Provider Only view at the time of composing a message, which once posted is distinguished by an icon. Conclusions: The team made a decision to incorporate an HCP-only communication view based on findings during earlier phases of work. During usability testing we tested the separate communication views, and all groups supported this partition. We spent considerable effort designing the partition; however, preliminary findings from the next phase of evaluation, pilot testing, show that the Patient and Team communication is predominantly being used. This demonstrates the importance of a subsequent phase of the clinical trial of Loop to validate the concept and design.

  • Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

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    Implementation of a Computerized Screening Inventory: Improved Usability Through Iterative Testing and Modification


    Background: The administration of health screeners in a hospital setting has traditionally required (1) clinicians to ask questions and log answers, which can be time consuming and susceptible to error, or (2) patients to complete paper-and-pencil surveys, which require third-party entry of information into the electronic health record and can be vulnerable to error and misinterpretation. A highly promising method that avoids these limitations and bypasses third-party interpretation is direct entry via a computerized inventory. Objective: To (1) computerize medical and behavioral health screening for use in general medical settings, (2) optimize patient acceptability and feasibility through iterative usability testing and modification cycles, and (3) examine how age relates to usability. Methods: A computerized version of 15 screeners, including behavioral health screeners recommended by a National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research collaborative workgroup, was subjected to systematic usability testing and iterative modification. Consecutive adult, English-speaking patients seeking treatment in an urban emergency department were enrolled. Acceptability was defined as (1) the percentage of eligible patients who agreed to take the assessment (initiation rate) and (2) average satisfaction with the assessment (satisfaction rate). Feasibility was defined as the percentage of the screening items completed by those who initiated the assessment (completion rate). Chi-square tests, analyses of variance, and Pearson correlations were used to detect whether improvements in initiation, satisfaction, and completion rates were seen over time and to examine the relation between age and outcomes. Results: Of 2157 eligible patients approached, 1280 agreed to complete the screening (initiation rate=59.34%). Statistically significant increases were observed over time in satisfaction (F3,1061=3.35, P=.019) and completion rates (F3,1276=25.44, P<.001). Younger age was associated with greater initiation (initiated, mean [SD], 46.6 [18.7] years; declined: 53.0 [19.5] years, t2,155=−7.6, P<.001), higher completion (r=−.20, P<.001), and stronger satisfaction (r=−.23, P<.001). Conclusions: In a rapid-paced emergency department with a heterogeneous patient population, 59.34% (1280/2157) of all eligible patients initiated the computerized screener with a completion rate reaching over 90%. Usability testing revealed several critical principles for maximizing usability of the computerized medical and behavioral health screeners used in this study. Further work is needed to identify usability issues pertaining to other screeners, racially and ethnically diverse patient groups, and different health care settings.

  • Usability labs at Toronto General Hospital showing a complete set up of a simulated operating room (including a patient simulator).

    Challenges and Paradoxes of Human Factors in Health Technology Design


    Usability testing allows human factors professionals to identify and mitigate issues with the design and use of medical technology. The test results, however, can be paradoxical and therefore be misinterpreted, limiting their usefulness. The paradoxical findings can lead to products that are not aligned with the needs and constraints of their users. We herein report on our observations of the paradox of expertise, the paradox of preference versus performance, and the paradox of choice. Each paradox explored is in the perspective of the design of medical technology, the issues that need to be considered in the interpretation of the test results, as well as suggestions on how to avoid the pitfalls in the design of medical technology. Because these paradoxes can influence product design at various stages of product development, it is important to be aware of the effects to interpret the findings properly.

  • Photo courtesy of / stockimages. Image ID: 100102403.

    Evaluating the Usability and Perceived Impact of an Electronic Medical Record Toolkit for Atrial Fibrillation Management in Primary Care: A Mixed-Methods...


    Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common and preventable cause of stroke. Barriers to reducing stroke risk through appropriate prescribing have been identified at the system, provider, and patient levels. To ensure a multifaceted initiative to address these barriers is effective, it is essential to incorporate user-centered design to ensure all intervention components are optimized for users. Objective: To test the usability of an electronic medical record (EMR) toolkit for AF in primary care with the goal of further refining the intervention to meet the needs of primary care clinicians. Methods: An EMR-based toolkit for AF was created and optimized through usability testing and iterative redesign incorporating a human factors approach. A mixed-methods pilot study consisting of observations, semi-structured interviews, and surveys was conducted to examine usability and perceived impact on patient care and workflow. Results: A total of 14 clinicians (13 family physicians and 1 nurse practitioner) participated in the study. Nine iterations of the toolkit were created in response to feedback from clinicians and the research team; interface-related changes were made, additional AF-related resources were added, and functionality issues were fixed to make the toolkit more effective. After improvements were made, clinicians expressed that the toolkit improved accessibility to AF-related information and resources, served as a reminder for guideline-concordant AF management, and was easy to use. Most clinicians intended to continue using the toolkit for patient care. With respect to impact on care, clinicians believed the toolkit increased the thoroughness of their assessments for patients with AF and improved the quality of AF-related care received by their patients. Conclusions: The positive feedback surrounding the EMR toolkit for AF and its perceived impact on patient care can be attributed to the adoption of a user-centered design that merged clinically important information about AF management with user needs. This study demonstrates the utility of a human factors approach to piloting and refining an intervention prior to wide-scale implementation.

  • Woman looking at laptop. (Website link:

Copyright: grinvalds.

    How Does Learnability of Primary Care Resident Physicians Increase After Seven Months of Using an Electronic Health Record? A Longitudinal Study


    Background: Electronic health records (EHRs) with poor usability present steep learning curves for new resident physicians, who are already overwhelmed in learning a new specialty. This may lead to error-prone use of EHRs in medical practice by new resident physicians. Objective: The study goal was to determine learnability gaps between expert and novice primary care resident physician groups by comparing performance measures when using EHRs. Methods: We compared performance measures after two rounds of learnability tests (November 12, 2013 to December 19, 2013; February 12, 2014 to April 22, 2014). In Rounds 1 and 2, 10 novice and 6 expert physicians, and 8 novice and 4 expert physicians participated, respectively. Laboratory-based learnability tests using video analyses were conducted to analyze learnability gaps between novice and expert physicians. Physicians completed 19 tasks, using a think-aloud strategy, based on an artificial but typical patient visit note. We used quantitative performance measures (percent task success, time-on-task, mouse activities), a system usability scale (SUS), and qualitative narrative feedback during the participant debriefing session. Results: There was a 6-percentage-point increase in novice physicians’ task success rate (Round 1: 92%, 95% CI 87-99; Round 2: 98%, 95% CI 95-100) and a 7-percentage-point increase in expert physicians’ task success rate (Round 1: 90%, 95% CI 83-97; Round 2: 97%, 95% CI 93-100); a 10% decrease in novice physicians’ time-on-task (Round 1: 44s, 95% CI 32-62; Round 2: 40s, 95% CI 27-59) and 21% decrease in expert physicians’ time-on-task (Round 1: 39s, 95% CI 29-51; Round 2: 31s, 95% CI 22-42); a 20% decrease in novice physicians mouse clicks (Round 1: 8 clicks, 95% CI 6-13; Round 2: 7 clicks, 95% CI 4-12) and 39% decrease in expert physicians’ mouse clicks (Round 1: 8 clicks, 95% CI 5-11; Round 2: 3 clicks, 95% CI 1-10); a 14% increase in novice mouse movements (Round 1: 9247 pixels, 95% CI 6404-13,353; Round 2: 7991 pixels, 95% CI 5350-11,936) and 14% decrease in expert physicians’ mouse movements (Round 1: 7325 pixels, 95% CI 5237-10,247; Round 2: 6329 pixels, 95% CI 4299-9317). The SUS measure of overall usability demonstrated only minimal change in the novice group (Round 1: 69, high marginal; Round 2: 68, high marginal) and no change in the expert group (74; high marginal for both rounds). Conclusions: This study found differences in novice and expert physicians’ performance, demonstrating that physicians’ proficiency increased with EHR experience. Our study may serve as a guideline to improve current EHR training programs. Future directions include identifying usability issues faced by physicians when using EHRs, through a more granular task analysis to recognize subtle usability issues that would otherwise be overlooked.

  • The homepage of the Social POD app.

Image copyright: Sarah (author).

    A Mixed-Methods Approach to the Development, Refinement, and Pilot Testing of Social Networks for Improving Healthy Behaviors


    Background: Mobile health (mHealth) has shown promise as a way to deliver weight loss interventions, including connecting users for social support. Objective: To develop, refine, and pilot test the Social Pounds Off Digitally (POD) Android app for personalized health monitoring and interaction. Methods: Adults who were overweight and obese with Android smartphones (BMI 25-49.9 kg/m2; N=9) were recruited for a 2-month weight loss pilot intervention and iterative usability testing of the Social POD app. The app prompted participants via notification to track daily weight, diet, and physical activity behaviors. Participants received the content of the behavioral weight loss intervention via podcast. In order to re-engage infrequent users (did not use the app within the previous 48 hours), the app prompted frequent users to select 1 of 3 messages to send to infrequent users targeting the behavioral theory constructs social support, self-efficacy, or negative outcome expectations. Body weight, dietary intake (2 24-hr recalls), and reported calories expended during physical activity were assessed at baseline and 2 months. All participants attended 1 of 2 focus groups to provide feedback on use of the app. Results: Participants lost a mean of 0.94 kg (SD 2.22, P=.24) and consumed significantly fewer kcals postintervention (1570 kcal/day, SD 508) as compared to baseline (2384 kcal/day, SD 993, P=.01). Participants reported expending a mean of 171 kcal/day (SD 153) during intentional physical activity following the intervention as compared to 138 kcal/day (SD 139) at baseline, yet this was not a statistically significant difference (P=.57). There was not a statistically significant correlation found between total app entries and percent weight loss over the course of the intervention (r=.49, P=.19). Mean number of app entries was 77.2 (SD 73.8) per person with a range of 0 to 219. Messages targeting social support were selected most often (32/68, 47%), followed by self-efficacy (28/68, 41%), and negative outcome expectations (8/68, 12%). Themes from the focus groups included functionality issues, revisions to the messaging system, and the addition of a point system with rewards for achieving goals. Conclusions: The Social POD app provides an innovative way to re-engage infrequent users by encouraging frequent users to provide social support. Although more time is needed for development, this mHealth intervention can be disseminated broadly for many years and to many individuals without the need for additional intensive in-person hours.

  • Sociotechnical human factors. Created by Lori Wozney (author) who holds the copyright.

    Sociotechnical Human Factors Involved in Remote Online Usability Testing of Two eHealth Interventions


    Background: Research in the fields of human performance technology and human computer interaction are challenging the traditional macro focus of usability testing arguing for methods that help test moderators assess “use in context” (ie, cognitive skills, usability understood over time) and in authentic “real world” settings. Human factors in these complex test scenarios may impact on the quality of usability results being derived yet there is a lack of research detailing moderator experiences in these test environments. Most comparative research has focused on the impact of the physical environment on results, and rarely on how the sociotechnical elements of the test environment affect moderator and test user performance. Improving our understanding of moderator roles and experiences with conducting “real world” usability testing can lead to improved techniques and strategies Objective: To understand moderator experiences of using Web-conferencing software to conduct remote usability testing of 2 eHealth interventions. Methods: An exploratory case study approach was used to study 4 moderators’ experiences using Blackboard Collaborate for remote testing sessions of 2 different eHealth interventions. Data collection involved audio-recording iterative cycles of test sessions, collecting summary notes taken by moderators, and conducting 2 90-minute focus groups via teleconference. A direct content analysis with an inductive coding approach was used to explore personal accounts, assess the credibility of data interpretation, and generate consensus on the thematic structure of the results. Results: Following the convergence of data from the various sources, 3 major themes were identified: (1) moderators experienced and adapted to unpredictable changes in cognitive load during testing; (2) moderators experienced challenges in creating and sustaining social presence and untangling dialogue; and (3) moderators experienced diverse technical demands, but were able to collaboratively troubleshoot with test users. Conclusions: Results highlight important human-computer interactions and human factor qualities that impact usability testing processes. Moderators need an advanced skill and knowledge set to address the social interaction aspects of Web-based usability testing and technical aspects of conferencing software during test sessions. Findings from moderator-focused studies can inform the design of remote testing platforms and real-time usability evaluation processes that place less cognitive burden on moderators and test users.

  • Design Thinking.

Page URL:
File URL:
Attribution: By Saad Alzarooni (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

    Mental Health Technologies: Designing With Consumers


    Despite growing interest in the promise of e-mental and well-being interventions, little supporting literature exists to guide their design and the evaluation of their effectiveness. Both participatory design (PD) and design thinking (DT) have emerged as approaches that hold significant potential for supporting design in this space. Each approach is difficult to definitively circumscribe, and as such has been enacted as a process, a mind-set, specific practices/techniques, or a combination thereof. At its core, however, PD is a design research tradition that emphasizes egalitarian partnerships with end users. In contrast, DT is in the process of becoming a management concept tied to innovation with strong roots in business and education. From a health researcher viewpoint, while PD can be reduced to a number of replicable stages that involve particular methods, techniques, and outputs, projects often take vastly different forms and effective PD projects and practice have traditionally required technology-specific (eg, computer science) and domain-specific (eg, an application domain, such as patient support services) knowledge. In contrast, DT offers a practical off-the-shelf toolkit of approaches that at face value have more potential to have a quick impact and be successfully applied by novice practitioners (and those looking to include a more human-centered focus in their work). Via 2 case studies we explore the continuum of similarities and differences between PD and DT in order to provide an initial recommendation for what health researchers might reasonably expect from each in terms of process and outcome in the design of e-mental health interventions. We suggest that the sensibilities that DT shares with PD (ie, deep engagement and collaboration with end users and an inclusive and multidisciplinary practice) are precisely the aspects of DT that must be emphasized in any application to mental health provision and that any technology development process must prioritize empathy and understanding over innovation for the successful uptake of technology in this space.


Copyright: Australian National University.

    University Students’ Views on the Perceived Benefits and Drawbacks of Seeking Help for Mental Health Problems on the Internet: A Qualitative Study


    Background: University students experience high levels of mental health problems yet very few seek professional help. Web-based mental health interventions may be useful for the university student population. However, there are few published qualitative studies that have examined the perceived benefits and drawbacks of seeking help for mental health problems on the Internet from the perspective of university students. Objective: To investigate the attitudes of university students on mental health help-seeking on the Internet. Methods: A total of 19 university students aged 19-24 years participated in 1 of 4 focus groups to examine their views toward help-seeking for mental health problems on the Internet. Results: Perceived concerns about Web-based help-seeking included privacy and confidentiality, difficulty communicating on the Internet, and the quality of Web-based resources. Potential benefits included anonymity/avoidance of stigma, and accessibility. Participants reported mixed views regarding the ability of people with similar mental health issues to interact on the Internet. Conclusions: These factors should be considered in the development of Web-based mental health resources to increase acceptability and engagement from university students.

  • Elder Tree participant using the website at her kitchen table.  Copyright Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, UW-Madison.

    Using the NIATx Model to Implement User-Centered Design of Technology for Older Adults


    What models can effectively guide the creation of eHealth and mHealth technologies? This paper describes the use of the NIATx model as a framework for the user-centered design of a new technology for older adults. The NIATx model is a simple framework of process improvement based on the following principles derived from an analysis of decades of research from various industries about why some projects fail and others succeed: (1) Understand and involve the customer; (2) fix key problems; (3) pick an influential change leader; (4) get ideas from outside the field; (5) use rapid-cycle testing. This paper describes the use of these principles in technology development, the strengths and challenges of using this approach in this context, and lessons learned from the process. Overall, the NIATx model enabled us to produce a user-focused technology that the anecdotal evidence available so far suggests is engaging and useful to older adults. The first and fourth principles were especially important in developing the technology; the fourth proved the most challenging to use.

  • This is the Image of the Bedside Cardiac Monitor Used at the Study Site. (Image taken by authors who hold the copyright).

    Changes in Default Alarm Settings and Standard In-Service are Insufficient to Improve Alarm Fatigue in an Intensive Care Unit: A Pilot Project


    Background: Clinical alarm systems safety is a national concern, specifically in intensive care units (ICUs) where alarm rates are known to be the highest. Interventional projects that examined the effect of changing default alarm settings on overall alarm rate and on clinicians’ attitudes and practices toward clinical alarms and alarm fatigue are scarce. Objective: To examine if (1) a change in default alarm settings of the cardiac monitors and (2) in-service nursing education on cardiac monitor use in an ICU would result in reducing alarm rate and in improving nurses’ attitudes and practices toward clinical alarms. Methods: This quality improvement project took place in a 20-bed transplant/cardiac ICU with a total of 39 nurses. We implemented a unit-wide change of default alarm settings involving 17 parameters of the cardiac monitors. All nurses received an in-service education on monitor use. Alarm data were collected from the audit log of the cardiac monitors 10 weeks before and 10 weeks after the change in monitors’ parameters. Nurses’ attitudes and practices toward clinical alarms were measured using the Healthcare Technology Foundation National Clinical Alarms Survey, pre- and postintervention. Results: Alarm rate was 87.86 alarms/patient day (a total of 64,500 alarms) at the preintervention period compared to 59.18 alarms/patient day (49,319 alarms) postintervention (P=.01). At baseline, Arterial Blood Pressure (ABP), Pair Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs), and Peripheral Capillary Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) alarms were the highest. ABP and SpO2 alarms remained among the top three at the postproject period. Out of the 39 ICU nurses, 24 (62%) provided complete pre- and postproject survey questionnaires. Compared to the preintervention survey, no remarkable changes in the postproject period were reported in nurses’ attitudes. Themes in the narrative data were related to poor usability of cardiac monitors and the frequent alarms. The data showed great variation among nurses in terms of changing alarm parameters and frequency of replacing patients' electrodes. Despite the in-service, 50% (12/24) of the nurses specified their need for more training on cardiac monitors in the postproject period. Conclusions: Changing default alarm settings and standard in-service education on cardiac monitor use are insufficient to improve alarm systems safety. Alarm management in ICUs is very complex, involving alarm management practices by clinicians, availability of unit policies and procedures, unit layout, complexity and usability of monitoring devices, and adequacy of training on system use. The complexity of the newer monitoring systems requires urgent usability testing and multidimensional interventions to improve alarm systems safety and to attain the Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal on alarm systems safety in critical care units.

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    Assessing the Usability of Six Data Entry Mobile Interfaces for Caregivers: A Randomized Trial


    Background: There is an increased demand in hospitals for tools, such as dedicated mobile device apps, that enable the recording of clinical information in an electronic format at the patient’s bedside. Although the human-machine interface design on mobile devices strongly influences the accuracy and effectiveness of data recording, there is still a lack of evidence as to which interface design offers the best guarantee for ease of use and quality of recording. Therefore, interfaces need to be assessed both for usability and reliability because recording errors can seriously impact the overall level of quality of the data and affect the care provided. Objective: In this randomized crossover trial, we formally compared 6 handheld device interfaces for both speed of data entry and accuracy of recorded information. Three types of numerical data commonly recorded at the patient’s bedside were used to evaluate the interfaces. Methods: In total, 150 health care professionals from the University Hospitals of Geneva volunteered to record a series of randomly generated data on each of the 6 interfaces provided on a smartphone. The interfaces were presented in a randomized order as part of fully automated data entry scenarios. During the data entry process, accuracy and effectiveness were automatically recorded by the software. Results: Various types of errors occurred, which ranged from 0.7% for the most reliable design to 18.5% for the least reliable one. The length of time needed for data recording ranged from 2.81 sec to 14.68 sec, depending on the interface. The numeric keyboard interface delivered the best performance for pulse data entry with a mean time of 3.08 sec (SD 0.06) and an accuracy of 99.3%. Conclusions: Our study highlights the critical impact the choice of an interface can have on the quality of recorded data. Selecting an interface should be driven less by the needs of specific end-user groups or the necessity to facilitate the developer’s task (eg, by opting for default solutions provided by commercial platforms) than by the level of speed and accuracy an interface can provide for recording information. An important effort must be made to properly validate mobile device interfaces intended for use in the clinical setting. In this regard, our study identified the numeric keyboard, among the proposed designs, as the most accurate interface for entering specific numerical values. This is an important step toward providing clearer guidelines on which interface to choose for the appropriate use of handheld device interfaces in the health care setting.

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  • Are Top-Rated Quit Smoking Mobile Applications Usable by People with Schizophrenia?

    Date Submitted: May 3, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: May 3, 2016 - May 17, 2016

    Background: Smoking is one of the top preventable causes of mortality in people with schizophrenia. Cessation treatment improves abstinence outcomes but access is a barrier. Smartphone applications (a...

    Background: Smoking is one of the top preventable causes of mortality in people with schizophrenia. Cessation treatment improves abstinence outcomes but access is a barrier. Smartphone applications (apps) are one way to increase access to cessation treatment; however, whether they are usable by people with schizophrenia have special learning needs, is not known. Objective: Researchers aimed to review 100 randomly selected apps for smoking cessation and rate them based on U.S. guidelines for nicotine addiction treatment and categorize them based on app functions. We aimed to test the usability and usefulness of the top-rated apps in 21 smokers with schizophrenia. Methods: We searched app stores with specific search terms, screened 766 results, and randomly selected 100 for review. Two independent reviewers rated each app with the Adherence Index to U.S. Clinical Practice Guideline for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. We then tested the top apps among smokers with schizophrenia while using a think-aloud protocol. This think-aloud protocol to measures their thoughts along with difficulties with word reading, comprehension, and other non-verbal issues. We analyzed quantitative results using descriptive statistics, t-tests, and ANOVAs. Qualitative data were open-coded and analyzed for themes. Results: Overall nearly 18% were categorized as calculator, 12% Hypnosis, 10% Mixed, 5% Rationing, 1% Calendar, and 54% were categorized as other because they provided a mixture, which included new functions. Of the “Other” category, we created subtypes; most apps contained educational content (n=16/40, 41%). The educational apps were rated higher on the Adherence Index (t=4.04, df=24, P<.001) compared to all other categories. Most of the randomly sampled smoking cessation apps scored poorly - 66% rated lower than 10 out of 100 on the Adherence Index (M=11.47, SD=11.8). The top ranked apps were then tested in 21 smokers diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum or psychotic disorder. Three common usability problems emerged from the qualitative analyses: text-dense content, abstract symbols on the homepage, and subtle directions to edit features. Participants reported having more problems with apps that had subtle directions than apps with abstract symbols on the homepage, F(2, 44)=3.33, P<.05. Conclusions: In this random sample of publicly available smoking cessation apps, the top nine apps performed well on the Adherence Index. Most apps performed poorly on the Adherence Index and failed to refer users to Quitline or suggest quit-smoking medications. Testing with participants with psychotic disorders revealed three primary design flaws. Future design of apps for this population should focus on explicit directions on how to use app design and content. Clinical Trial: n/a


    Date Submitted: May 1, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: May 3, 2016 - May 17, 2016

    Background: The present alarm design has given rise to problems such as too many alarms, too many false alarms, alarm too loud, inadequate information in the alarm, no standardization among manufactur...

    Background: The present alarm design has given rise to problems such as too many alarms, too many false alarms, alarm too loud, inadequate information in the alarm, no standardization among manufacturers,user response time and localisation of the alarm. These problems have caused alarm fatigue and poor performance among users leading towards users ignoring or switching of the alarm, delayed identification of alarm source, delayed response to alarms and inappropriate response.This issue of poor user response needs to be considered seriously especially in ICU/CCU where it could prove to be fatal to patients. As such, it is timely to improve the effectiveness of the clinical alarm system by incorporating human factor engineering principles in the design of the alarm systems.The design should address the cognitive ability of the user and improve on the information embedded in the alarm system. Objective: The objective of this research study is to develop a clinical alarm monitor model based on structured information of patient condition, criticality of physiological condition and response time. This study also intends to conceptualise this model to develop a web based physiological monitor alarm simulator (PMAS). Methods: The study design of this research consist of two stages; first the development stage and second the testing methodology. The development stage of this research entails the identification of elements in the structured information model for the clinical alarm monitor (CAM) model. Thereon, with identification of the auditory and visual alarm requirements to develop a web based physiological monitor alarm simulator (PMAS). The testing stage of the CAM model involves three simulation tests and focus group discussions. The identification of physiological parameters limit setting was based on focus group discussions. All the simulation testing were conducted in the Continuous Medical Education (CME) room in the ICU in a public hospital. This room was converted to an ICU/CCU simulation room with ambient ICU sound simulated with medical devices. A sound pressure level meter, TENMA 72-6635 was used to measure the sound pressure level of the alarm signals and the ambient sound was maintained throughout the sessions. Results: In this manuscript, we showed that the current auditory alarm signal neitherhas information of the risk associated with the physiological condition that triggered the alarm nor the status of the patient. This further led to formative usability test conducted among 60 clinicians to study the perception of urgency associated with the number of tones in the auditory alarm signals. This psychoacoustic effect of the auditory signal that maps urgency to the associated risk. The findings indicate that the perceived urgency increases as the stimulus number of tones decreases. The new relationship of tones and urgency established in this study need to be incorporated in the design of auditory alarm to ensure effectiveness of the auditory alarm signals. Conclusions: It can be concluded that with the incorporation of the structured information in the new clinical alarm monitor model,the user response and overall performance of the clinical alarm monitor can be improved.The web based PMAS allows selection and setting of the auditory alarm sound database and manipulation of the visual displays based on colour code. This design concept can be extended for monitoring other physiological parameters and applied for therapeutic devices.This model can also be used as alarm simulator for future research in alarm systems.This PMAS concept can also be extended as a web based alarm monitor application in mobile phones, tablets and computers for either professional or home users.