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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Design of a graphical and interactive interface for facilitating access to drug contraindications, cautions for use, interactions and adverse effects

Jean-Baptiste Lamy1*, Alain Venot1, Avner Bar-Hen1, Patrick Ouvrard2 and Catherine Duclos1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire d'Informatique Médicale et de Bioinformatique (LIM&BIO), UFR SMBH, Université Paris 13, 74 rue Marcel Cachin, 93017 Bobigny cedex, France

2 Société de Formation Thérapeutique du Généraliste (SFTG), 233 bis rue de Tolbiac, 75013 Paris, France

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2008, 8:21  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-21

Published: 2 June 2008



Drug iatrogeny is important but could be decreased if contraindications, cautions for use, drug interactions and adverse effects of drugs described in drug monographs were taken into account. However, the physician's time is limited during consultations, and this information is often not consulted. We describe here the design of "Mister VCM", a graphical interface based on the VCM graphical language, facilitating access to drug monographs. We also provide an assessment of the usability of this interface.


The "Mister VCM" interface was designed by dividing the screen into two parts: a graphical interactive one including VCM icons and synthetizing drug properties, a textual one presenting on demand drug monograph excerpts. The interface was evaluated over 11 volunteer general practitioners, trained in the use of "Mister VCM". They were asked to answer clinical questions related to fictitious randomly generated drug monographs, using a textual interface or "Mister VCM". When answering the questions, correctness of the responses and response time were recorded.


"Mister VCM" is an interactive interface that displays VCM icons organized around an anatomical diagram of the human body with additional mental, etiological and physiological areas. Textual excerpts of the drug monograph can be displayed by clicking on the VCM icons. The interface can explicitly represent information implicit in the drug monograph, such as the absence of a given contraindication. Physicians made fewer errors with "Mister VCM" than with text (factor of 1.7; p = 0.034) and responded to questions 2.2 times faster (p < 0.001). The time gain with "Mister VCM" was greater for long monographs and questions with implicit replies.


"Mister VCM" seems to be a promising interface for accessing drug monographs. Similar interfaces could be developed for other medical domains, such as electronic patient records.