A third way that health IT in America differs from consumer IT is usability. The design of most consumer Web sites is so obvious that one needs no instructions to use them. Within minutes, a seven year old can teach herself to play a complex game on an iPad.
But a newly hired neurosurgeon with 27 years of education may have to read a thick user manual, attend tedious classes, and accept periodic tutoring from a “change champion” to master the various steps required to use his hospital’s IT system. Not surprisingly, despite its theoretical benefits, health IT has few fans among health-care providers. In fact, many complain that it slows them down.