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An international peer-reviewed journal

Ergonomics Product Development of a Mobile Workstation for Health Care

Risto Toivonen, Dong-Shik Choi, and Nina Nevala

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, November 2011, pp. 40 - 50

Article Contents

Discussion and Recommendation

Based on the expert evaluation and the user study, this study found 19 different criteria for the ergonomics and usability of a mobile workstation. The most important ergonomic features of the mobile workstation that needed improvement were the keyboard tray, the mouse tray, and the procedure to install and lock the laptop computer to the workstation.

In the future, more information and communication technologies will be used in health care. As the market becomes more competitive, usability can be a key product differentiator and a crucial factor in the purchase decision. The results showed that a mobile workstation must be an easy-to-use and sought-after tool for work so that everyone is able to make use of it easily and effectively. Nurses and physicians need both hands for the examination and care of their patients, therefore, handheld computers are not practical. However, in the literature, no articles were found concerning the ergonomics and usability of mobile workstations: Most of the scientific literature pertained to information access in health care (Reuss et al., 2004), mobile health care acceptance (Wu et al., 2007), handheld computers (Lapinsky, 2007), and information technologies in patients' homes (Kaufman et al., 2003).

This study was planned in cooperation with researchers, manufacturers, and experienced health care workers. As a result, it was possible to identify the work tasks generally performed with a mobile workstation and to choose proper testing methods. The final mobile workstation was developed using an iterative process that included expert evaluation and practical user experience feedback and evaluation. In the expert evaluation, four experts in ergonomics participated. The expert evaluation is a quick and cheap method for achieving broad coverage of a whole product, but it typically misses some complex issues (Barrington, 2007). In the user study, eight experienced physicians and nurses participated. It is known that the use of four to eight participants can drive a useful iterative cycle: find serious problems, correct them, and find more serious problems (Molich, 2010). According to Molich’s paper, the number and the quality of evaluators affects the results more than the size of the participant group.

This study shows that the SUS index is suitable for products other than software user interfaces. The SUS index was free, and easy to administer and use. In addition, the SUS scores can be evaluated against emerging benchmarks (Bangor et al., 2008; Bangor et al., 2009; Sauro, 2011).


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