A Federated Online Search Tool for Biospecimens (Sample Locator): Usability Study

Schüttler C, Huth V, von Jagwitz-Biegnitz M, Lablans M, Prokosch HU, Griebel L (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 22

Pages Range: e17739-

Journal Issue: 8

DOI: 10.2196/17739


BACKGROUND: The German Biobank Alliance (GBA) aims to establish a cross-site biobank network. For this endeavor, the so-called Sample Locator, a federated search tool for biospecimens and related data, has been developed, forming the heart of its information technology (IT) infrastructure. OBJECTIVE: To ensure the sustainable use of such a tool, we included researchers as participants in an end user-based usability evaluation. METHODS: To develop a prototype ready for evaluation, we needed input from GBA IT experts. Thus, we conducted a 2-day workshop with 8 GBA IT team members. The focus was on the respective steps of a user-centered design process. With the acquired knowledge, the participants designed low-fidelity mock-ups. The main ideas of these mock-ups were discussed, extracted, and summarized into a comprehensive prototype using Microsoft PowerPoint. Furthermore, we created a questionnaire concerning the usability of the prototype, including the System Usability Scale (SUS), questions on negative and positive aspects, and typical tasks to be fulfilled with the tool. Subsequently, the prototype was pretested on the basis of this questionnaire with researchers who have a biobank background. Based on this preliminary work, the usability analysis was ultimately carried out with researchers and the results were evaluated. RESULTS: Altogether, 27 researchers familiar with sample requests evaluated the prototype. The analysis of the feedback certified a good usability, given that the Sample Locator prototype was seen as intuitive and user-friendly by 74% (20/27) of the participants. The total SUS score by the 25 persons that completed the questionnaire was 80.4, indicating good system usability. Still, the evaluation provided useful advice on optimization potential (eg, offering a help function). CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this usability analysis indicate that the considerations regarding a user-friendly application that have been made in the development process so far strongly coincide with the perception of the study participants. Nevertheless, it was important to engage prospective end users to ensure that the previous development is going in the desired direction and that the Sample Locator will be used in the future. The user comments and suggestions for improvement will be considered in upcoming iterations for refinement.

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Schüttler, C., Huth, V., von Jagwitz-Biegnitz, M., Lablans, M., Prokosch, H.-U., & Griebel, L. (2020). A Federated Online Search Tool for Biospecimens (Sample Locator): Usability Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(8), e17739-. https://doi.org/10.2196/17739


Schüttler, Christina, et al. "A Federated Online Search Tool for Biospecimens (Sample Locator): Usability Study." Journal of Medical Internet Research 22.8 (2020): e17739-.

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