Designing Web Applications for Older Health Consumers – Easier Said Than Done
Consumers older than 65 may have difficulty using Web applications to identify providers that meet their needs, according to an AHRQ-funded study. Researchers created a Web application that enabled Rhode Island consumers to compare home health agencies based on information such as services offered and health outcomes. They conducted usability testing of the Web application using two focus groups, totaling 14 older consumers looking for information about home health agencies and six hospital case managers. Investigators noted that while Web applications are a cost-effective way to disseminate information, it is important to ensure that people with low literacy, low health literacy and low computer proficiency can access, understand and use these applications. Although the researchers based their initial design on best practices, user testing showed that they overestimated the extent to which older adults were familiar with using computer applications. Researchers subsequently adopted simpler navigation and additional user prompts. The study and abstract were published in the May 15 issue of the journal eGEMS (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes).