Heuristic evaluation of clinical functions in four practice management systems: A pilot study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Background. Dentists report that the complexity and poor usability of practice management systems (PMSs) are factors in the slow adoption of computers at chairside. Methods. Three dental informatics researchers performed heuristic evaluations of four PMSs to identify potential usability problems that may be encountered during the clinical care process. Each researcher performed three common clinical documentation tasks on each PMS and examined the clinical user interface of each system using a published list of 10 software heuristics. An observer recorded all findings, summarized the results and totaled the heuristic violations across all programs. Results. The authors found 229 heuristic violations. Consistency and Standards, Match Between System and the Real World, and Error Prevention were the heuristics that were violated most commonly. The patterns of heuristic violations across software packages were relatively similar. Conclusions. The findings provide an initial assessment of potential usability problems in four PMSs. The identified violations highlight aspects of dental software that may present the most significant problems to users. Clinical Implications. Heuristic violations in PMSs may result in usability problems for dentists and other office personnel, reducing efficiency and effectiveness of a software implementation. Vendors should consider applying user-centered design methodologies to reduce the number of potential usability problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Computers
  • Decision making
  • Documentation
  • Evidence-based dentistry
  • Practice management systems
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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