NIST to Test Usability of Systems

Seeks contractor to develop method The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute for Standards and Technology is seeking bids due February 5 for a company to help it develop a method to measure the usability of health information technology, including electronic health records.

"The framework includes development, refinement and harmonization of HIT usability standards and certification processes," according to the announcement.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NIST is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop a way to test information systems.

The full announcement is below:

(Jan. 22, 2010, solicitation from NIST)
This Sources Sought notice is issued for information and planning purposes only. Any procurement that may result from this notice will be funded, in whole or in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). No solicitation is currently available, and no unsolicited proposals will be analyzed as a result of this Sources Sought notice. As a result of this market research, if at least two capable small businesses are identified, any resulting competitive procurement will be conducted as a small business set-aside. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for this requirement is 541512.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking to identify sources with the requisite qualifications and capabilities necessary to fully develop and execute a project to create a usability framework for health information technology (HIT) systems. The framework includes development, refinement and harmonization of HIT usability standards and certification processes.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology goal is to advance the usability of healthcare information technology (HIT). To meet the aforementioned goal NIST will require future contractor expertise for researching usability standards and testing methodologies for emerging technologies that will support NIST's goal.

The specific requirements of the project are described in more detail below:

  1. Tasks, Users, and Systems Research Component
    • Perform cognitive task analysis of the health care delivery task environment
    • Determine user characteristics
    • Perform human factors analysis of representative sample of existing HIT systems
    • Develop hypotheses about critical HIT design features
    • Evaluate hypotheses with usability testing
  2. Organizational Usability Processes Research Component
    • Study existing HIT industry usability practices
    • Investigate current usability evaluation methods being used in healthcare information technology as well as other areas
    • Conduct a workshop of acknowledged experts in HIT usability and have them analyze the findings of steps 2a and 2b.
    • Using the recommendations of the experts in step 2c and the principles identified in steps 1a through 1e, create a well-defined usability evaluation process that includes a roadmap for implementation and indicates where policy decisions are required.
    • Evaluate a representative sample of HIT systems using the evaluation process developed in step 2d
    • Develop a common format for HIT formative and summative usability test reporting
  3. Development Methodology Task Area
    • Define, develop, and scope requirements.
    • Define and develop the project approach and description.
    • Adopt and refine methodologies following standard usability engineering principles.
    • Define and manage organizational requirements.
    • Perform cognitive task analyses and develop user profiles.
    • Conduct human factors analysis of systems and do hypothesis testing.
    • Identify existing usability practices in HIT development.
    • Organize and facilitate HIT usability expert workshop.
    • Develop, refine and harmonize usability and certification principles and frameworks.
    • Provide documentation and communication.

How to respond to this source sought notice:

If your company has recent experiences with projects that are similar in scope to what may be required by the upcoming procurement for Health IT usability testing processes, then please provide the following information (20 pages or less, total):

  1. Description of each related project completed by your company as a prime Contractor or as a significant subcontractor within the past three (3) years, including as much of the following information as possible:
    • a. Summarize a brief description of the technical requirements of that project;
    • b. Provide specific information on your company's previous experience in providing the type of services required by this announcement; and,
    • c. Provide the name, address, point of contact and phone number of customer organization for which the work was done.
  2. Identify whether your company was the prime Contractor or subcontractor.
  3. Identify the company's current multiple award contracts such as General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedules Program, and Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC),
  4. Provide company's Central Contractor Registration information, Duns and Bradstreet and tax identification number.
  5. Please state your North American Industry Classification System Codes (NAICS), Federal Supply Classes (FSC) code, and business size standard.
  6. Firms are encouraged to provide samples of innovative solutions that will satisfy the Government's requirements.

Interested sources that believe they possess the capabilities necessary to support the Health Information Technology usability requirements are asked to submit an electronic copy of their capability statement, addressing the criteria identified above. Any proprietary information should be marked. Written capability statement shall clearly and unambiguously demonstrate an ability to fulfill tasks identified in this sources sought notice. Responses to this notice will only be accepted via email to:, support contractor, with "Cc" to Ms. Wanza B. Jonjo, at Responses must be sent to arrive into inboxes, to teh email addresses provided above, no later than 3:00 p.m., EST on February 5, 2010. No telephone requests will be honored.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

News Editor, ISMG

Anderson is news editor of Information Security Media Group and was founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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