February 3, 2009 By News Report
User experience research firm User Centric Inc. recently conducted an independent comparative usability study of two existing online personal health record (PHR) applications, Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault. (Neither Google nor Microsoft commissioned or participated in this study in any manner.) While participants' overall evaluations were certainly influenced by features, security, privacy and trust, it is critical to note that their major difficulties with both applications -- and their strongest criticisms -- were related to the user experience.
During this study, 30 participants representing patients completed key tasks using both PHR applications and provided qualitative feedback, ratings and preference data on five specific dimensions: Overall usability, utility (usefulness of features), security, privacy and trust. Participants were generally new to the concept of PHR applications. During the study, they completed seven tasks using both the Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault applications which included three application-specific tasks that explored each application's unique features.
Overall, User Centric's comparative study found neither Google Health nor Microsoft HealthVault were perfect applications; each had flaws in the user experience which were seen to reduce participants' willingness to adopt PHR technology. However, participants preferred Google Health over Microsoft HealthVault because navigation and data entry of health information was easier than on the other application. Participants said that the Google Health application used more familiar medical terminology and provided a persistent health information profile summary.
While there is a great more to be learned in this domain, leveraging actual user feedback and experience continues to be an essential step in improving PHRs and increasing the rate of PHR adoption.
Based on this usability study, User Centric has identified several guidelines to be included in a working model for PHR interfaces that facilitates user adoption.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.