A boutique consulting firm, User Centric Inc., just released a brief report comparing the usability of the two leading Personal Health Platforms (PHP), or Health Clouds, Google Health (GHealth) and HealthVault (HV). While we may quibble with some of the inconsistencies in the report (e.g., state 30 participants but when breaking down by age group, they have 50 participants) and erroneous information (e.g., a nice feature that these PHRs should include is the ability to share the PHR with one’s physician – Huh?, both GHealth and HV each support this functionality already), there are some good bits of information tucked in the report on basic usability that is applicable to ALL PHR vendors.
So who won the usability survey…
According to the report, GHealth was the hands-down winner for Ease of Use and Usefulness/Utility by a wide margin. This is not any different than our own opinion, so not too surprising. HealthVault has made great strides since their initial launch, but clearly, they have much further to go.
HealthVault did not go home empty handed and was considered better than its Mountain View rivals on Security, Privacy and Trust by a slim margin. We found this to be unusual as we would have predicted a virtual tie as both companies have been very forthcoming on these important issues.
One caveat: The participants were heavily represented by those under 30yrs old. Yes, they are the Digital Natives and are leading most trends on the Internet, but no, they do not represent those most likely to adopt and use a PHR, families (mothers managing the health records of the family) or those with chronic conditions.
And one last key point: Survey participants stated that they only want to spend 10-30min setting up a PHR, after that they may update it monthly, or just once a year. This may be a by-product of the age group (most under 30) but 10-30min, is very little time to work with. Our guess is, if you make it an enjoyable experience, that 10-30min can readily be doubled.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as part of its Project Health Design (PHD), has done some great work (or at least those they have supported through grants) on the topic of creating truly useful (utility/ease of use), personal, and engaging Personal Health apps. It is difficult to call these apps PHRs as some of these apps are more limited, and others more expansive than what the traditional PHR term encompasses.
Just received an email today from the PHD team at RWJF. The PHD program has received a second round of funding and the PHD team is now looking to apply this funding, via grants, to encourage the development of apps that focus on “Observations of Daily Living” (OLD). The PHD team is seeking input, particularly from the private sector, (hurrah, we were a bit disappointed in lack of such in round one) as to how they should structure the grant proposal, both from an IP perspective and how data from OLD would be stored and shared. You’ll find out more over at their site and do encourage you to take a look while you are there at some of the videos they produced highlighting the work sponsored in round one.
And Another Addendum:
The publishers of the usabilty study have updated the report due to the error I had found yesterday regarding number of participants. Instead of 22 participants representing 18-21 age bracket in the origianl report, there were actually only 2. Thus, indeed there were 30 participants total, the under 30yrs old group representing 40% of total sample size, (which we find still not representative of actual adopters of these solutions).
The updated report is now available at the User Centric site.