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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 a recent 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 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 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, “Using Qualitative Methods to Create a Home Health Web Application User Interface for Patients with Low Computer Proficiency” and abstract were published in the May 15, 2015, issue of the journal eGEMS, 3(2).

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