A usability evaluation of four commercial dental computer-based patient record systems

Thankam P. Thyvalikakath, Valerie Monaco, Hima Bindu Thambuganipalle, Titus Schleyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Background. The usability of dental computer-based patient record (CPR) systems has not been studied, despite early evidence that poor usability is a problem for dental CPR system users at multiple levels. Methods. The authors conducted formal usability tests of four dental CPR systems by using a purposive sample of four groups of five novice users. The authors measured task outcomes (correctly completed, incorrectly completed and incomplete) in each CPR system while the participants performed nine clinical documentation tasks, as well as the number of usability problems identified in each CPR system and their potential relationship to task outcomes. The authors reviewed the software application design aspects responsible for these usability problems. Results. The range for correctly completed tasks was 16 to 64 percent, for incorrectly completed tasks 18 to 38 percent and for incomplete tasks 9 to 47 percent. The authors identified 286 usability problems. The main types were three unsuccessful attempts, negative affect and task incorrectly completed. They also identified six problematic interface and interaction designs that led to usability problems. Conclusion. The four dental CPR systems studied have significant usability problems for novice users, resulting in a steep learning curve and potentially reduced system adoption. Clinical Implications. The significant number of data entry errors raises concerns about the quality of documentation in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1632-1642
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical information systems
  • Computer-based patient records
  • Evaluation
  • Usability
  • User interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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