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Portal Beauty and the User Experience

Dr. Marci Stochak-Chavez just posted an article on our health blog somewhat related to yesterday’s post.  She focuses on whether beauty is in the eye of the beholder for a portal.    In here article, she references a design a portal challenge in New York City.  This challenge pushes contestants to create a nice interface while also using key standards like the Blue Button and the Direct Protocol to transmit medical records.

Dr. Marci makes one quote it’s easy to agree with.

I believe that usability is directly related to design and this could significantly further patient engagement, help satisfy Meaningful Use requirements and create a usable personal health record (PHR) for patients

Here’s where the fun starts.  I’m working with a client now who has engaged us to develop not only a portal that meets government specifications but also provides an easy to use interface that engages users as patients and consumers.  It’s not all that easy.

Case in point, our awesome team of User Experience specialists, Abbey Smalley and Aaron McCoy, created a couple of different interfaces to test for how people access their test results, medical history, allergies, etc.  One approach in particular the project team found interesting. It was a timeline approach to your record where you could see a bill due, additions to your record, when you went to the doctor etc.   The second design was a more mundane set of icons with indicators that something had changed.  When tested, the second approach won………. hands down.   That tells me two things.  First, I’m not a designer and I don’t have the first clue what patients really want.  Second, sometimes simplicity will trump almost anything else.

But like Dr. Marci, I look forward to the results of that challenge.

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