Introducing the EHRA Persona Library

By Emily Richmond and Tammy Coutts
Chair and Vice Chair, EHRA Clinician Experience Workgroup

Developing a deep understanding of users and their surrounding environment is an important first step in the process of designing usable, safe and effective products. Documenting the who, why and how of individual users and the scenarios they face as part of normal (and abnormal) workflows can take the form of a persona, representing a real user based on qualitative and quantitative research and first-person experience. Personas enable clear understanding of the different users of a product and their goals, problems and backgrounds, cultivating empathy within a development team for who their users really are.

EHRA is pleased to introduce the EHRA Persona Library, created by the EHRA Clinician Experience Workgroup using the input of last year’s Usability Summit participants as a starting point. The library launched with 11 persona templates—ranging from Hospitalist to Family Caregiver to Medical Assistant—with plans to add additional personas in the future.

carolyn-coolridge-rnOne of the personas is hospital nurse “Carolyn Coolridge, RN.” This persona helps us get to know Carolyn, how she balances work and childcare, often feels underappreciated, and that nursing is a calling. We have the opportunity to review her short-term and long-term goals, as well as a long list of typical problems and frustrations she faces on the job, such as the amount of time she spends completing documentation. We also hear Carolyn’s voice through quotes like, “It’s like waiting tables when you have five to six patients, going from room to room all day, everyone always needing something. There’s a lot of repetition in tasks I perform.”

rachel-young-1Another persona is “Rachel Young,” a nurse informaticist and regulatory compliance director for a multi-practice enterprise, who strives to help others understand the importance of documentation in the EHR and the impact on quality. Rachel often feels overwhelmed by constant interruptions, keeping up with frequent program changes, and difficulties in getting all the data she needs in one place. Her frustrations are evident through quotes such as, “It is very difficult to get providers to keep track of and care about quality measures. I want them to understand that quality measures do benefit their patients and the practice.”

User-centered design focuses on the people who use EHRs. Creating personas like Carolyn Coolridge and Rachel Young helps EHR developers better visualize and understand the end-user.

You can access the Persona Library online at EHRA.org, under the Resource Library tab. We hope that EHRA members and other developers will find value in these personas. Organizations are encouraged to use the Persona Library as a free resource in their development work to gain new insight into their users, or to augment personas their teams are already using. Please share them widely!

By the way, we’re already making plans to host the next Usability Summit in June. If you’d like to participate, please contact Sarah Willis-Garcia.

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