It is important to establish brand credibility, as it is a motivating factor for users to choose a PHR.
As mentioned earlier, participants said they would feel more comfortable with the information given in a PHR if it was from or endorsed by a known company or medical association. Brand credibility will help to ensure the success of any PHR.
A PHR should have easily accessible privacy agreements and other legal disclosures, in language that is simple to understand.
Different types of users and their health needs should be consciously addressed when designing functionality for a PHR.
Because many participants saw significant value in using a PHR if they had a chronic condition, it is important that the ideal PHR is tailored to this type of situation. Although not included in a specific task in the study, the process of adding multiple updates to the same condition was not streamlined by any of the three PHRs studied, which may limit their utility for users with these types of conditions. Consider a user with a complicated condition like breast cancer. When this user initially sets up her PHR profile, she may want to input her cancer's entire history, including related test results, treatment regimens, medications and procedures.
Then, each time the status in her health changes, the PHR will need to be updated. The current model used by all three PHRs in this usability study simply allows for new line items to a single category of information (e.g., condition or medication). The ideal PHR should allow users with such conditions to tie different types of information together under the umbrella of a single medical issue and enable easy updates.
Performing usability testing on several popular PHRs allowed User Centric to get a closer, more studied perspective on the user experience of PHRs as well as their most valuable features and functions. The wealth of data gathered from the research was used to inform the development of some design best practices for PHRs. User Centric encourages further validation of the preliminary ideas suggested for these best practices above.
While there is still more to be learned in this domain, obtaining actual users' feedback and experiences is an essential step to increasing the rate of PHR adoption. As a follow-up to the PHR usability testing described in this whitepaper, User Centric conducted an online survey to gather further data on attitudes towards PHRs. Although analysis of the survey data is currently ongoing, several relevant trends have been identified.
One critical point is that survey respondents were not typically prepared to invest a large amount of time in configuring or updating their PHR. Most commonly, respondents were willing to spend between 10 and 30 minutes setting up their PHR and were willing to update it only monthly or yearly. This highlights the importance of the PHR user experience to adoption; if data entry is difficult or inefficient, the PHR may not be worth the user's time.
Another interesting finding included the features that would most drive respondents to adopt a PHR. These were:
Sharing one's information with their physician was the only one of these features to be included on the questionnaire given during the usability testing, and it scored highly in both the testing and the survey. The other four features were among those newly introduced for the survey.
In addition to this online survey, User Centric is conducting an online test of task-based first-click responses to assess the effectiveness of page layout and terminology used in the three PHRs evaluated in the usability study.
In the future, User Centric will release a more detailed report to discuss the survey data and its implications. Additionally, focus groups featuring individuals with distinct health-related profiles (e.g., health professionals, parents) are also planned.
Visit our EHR User Experience Consulting section to learn how User Centric can help make your EHR application and its user interface more effective, efficient, intuitive, and satisfying to use.
User Centric is a global user experience consulting firm that researches people's interaction with products and the overall user experience. We believe that user experience is an integral part of an organization's brand. We apply our expertise to projects involving handhelds, web sites, software, medical devices, print, packaging, and telephony services. Our services include user research, user interface design consulting, information architecture, usability testing, usability evaluations, and eye tracking. User Centric is a founding member of the UXalliance (www.uxalliance.com), an international network for user experience. Learn more about User Centric at www.UserCentric.com.