Faced with a long dinner menu, it’s hard to decide what to order. (Even with a medium-sized menu, my wife always says “You go ahead and order, I haven’t decided yet.” But that’s extreme.)
It’s not just an urban legend. There are scientific studies that demonstrate it.
In a grocery store, set up a jam-tasting station.
First, put out four different jams, and let people taste, and if they wish, buy.
Four out of ten people who stop by will taste some jam. Of those people who stopped to taste, three out of ten will buy some jam.
Next, put out twenty-four jams.
Six out of ten people will stop to taste. But of those who taste, less than one in ten (3%) will buy.
The more menu choices, the harder it is to decide.
This problem has been known for millennia. Aesop relates the traditional tale of the fox and the cat. The idea is ensconced in the pop psychology literature as analysis paralysis. You can even buy a book about it.
In Cerner FirstNet, I am confronted with a similar plethora of choices. For instance, to get to most of the information in Cerner from FirstNet, I need to click on a menu item called Chart. (There are other ways to get to this information, but this seems the simplest.)
However, the menu I am confronted with is as follows:
Impression and Plan
Problems and Diagnoses
Newborn Genview (new)
Labor _Delivery view
Ad Hoc Charting
Tear Off This View
Attach to Chart
Chart Accessed by >
That’s thirty-nine choices. I have highlighted the only options on this menu that I use. I have no idea what most of the rest are. Nor do I need to know what they are to do my job. (P.S.: that ED Summary? I don’t find it useful. Sorry.)
Oh, how much simpler it would be to find my needles if they weren’t in such a big haystack. And I would less-often click on the wrong menu item, if there were fewer items, and they were bigger.
Why can’t I have a shorter menu? All the things I don’t use could be grouped under a single “Rarely-Used” menu item!
Wait, the developer says. People keep asking for all these menu items so we keep adding them.
But I’m not “people” or even “users.” I am an emergency physician. And in my role, I – and all the other people|users – need menus that are customized for our specific roles.
Yes, it takes more work. You have to figure out which menu items I – and my 80 partners – use, and which we don’t. So? We’re worth it. And it makes a much, much better product.
I hope someone at Cerner reads this.
Tags: Choice; Analysis Paralysis, Cognitive Friction, ED, ED Systems, Emergency Department, Healthcare, Healthcare IT, Human Error, Information Design, Information Technology, IT, Menus, Usability, User Interaction Design, User Interface