Improving COVID-19 Research of University Hospitals in Germany: Formative Usability Evaluation of the CODEX Feasibility Portal

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



BACKGROUND:  Within the German "Network University Medicine," a portal is to be developed to enable researchers to query on novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) data from university hospitals for assessing the feasibility of a clinical study.

OBJECTIVES:  The usability of a prototype for federated feasibility queries was evaluated to identify design strengths and weaknesses and derive improvement recommendations for further development.

METHODS:  In the course of a remote usability test with the thinking-aloud method and posttask interviews, 15 clinical researchers evaluated the usability of a prototype of the Feasibility Portal. The identified usability problems were rated according to severity, and improvement recommendations were derived.

RESULTS:  The design of the prototype was rated as simple, intuitive, and as usable with little effort. The usability test reported a total of 26 problems, 8 of these were rated as "critical." Usability problems and revision recommendations focus primarily on improving the visual distinguishability of selected inclusion and exclusion criteria, enabling a flexible approach to criteria linking, and enhancing the free-text search.

CONCLUSION:  Improvement proposals were developed for these user problems which will guide further development and the adaptation of the portal to user needs. This is an important prerequisite for correct and efficient use in everyday clinical work in the future. Results can provide developers of similar systems with a good starting point for interface conceptualizations. The methodological approach/the developed test guideline can serve as a template for similar evaluations.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-409
Number of pages10
JournalApplied clinical informatics
Issue number02
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

External IDs

PubMedCentral PMC9021003
Scopus 85128796872
unpaywall 10.1055/s-0042-1744549
WOS 000783967000001
Mendeley 85e7a719-f4f7-3add-a013-524a96f57708
ORCID /0000-0002-9888-8460/work/142254089



  • COVID-19, Clinical research informatics, Evaluation, Interfaces and usability, User acceptance and resistance, Workflows and human interaction