Young Tech-Savvy Users’ Perceptions of Consumer Health Portals


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Jim Warren
National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI)
The University of Auckland
(P27, 17/10/08, Consumers and the Internet stream, 10.50am)

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Young Tech-Savvy Users’ Perceptions of Consumer Health Portals

  1. 1. Young Tech-Savvy Users’ Perceptions of Consumer Health Portals Jim Warren Chief Scientist, National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) The University of Auckland HINZ Conference & Exhibition Rotorua, October 2008
  2. 2. Consumers and the Internet <ul><li>Why study this? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cornerstone of consumer empowerment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality issue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do consumers find what they’re looking for? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is what they find correct? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do they understand it enough to take the right action? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Investments are prolific </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Governments building big general sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Purpose-specific sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. As illustrated by thelowdown – the bar is moving up (and so will the cost); e.g., locally-relevant multimedia content
  4. 5. Context/Motivation <ul><li>Continuing Australian Research Council (ARC) funding – Smart Internet Portals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Investigating the role and management of metadata for consumer Internet health resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How do we describe these resources so people get matched up with </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What they want </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What they need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accurate stuff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… so they end up healthy and empowered </li></ul>
  5. 6. We wish to see into the future of consumer health on the Internet So let’s ask the young tech-savvy folks what works for them
  6. 7. Methodology <ul><li>Offered a tutorial (with opt out) to COMPSCI 345 Human-Computer Interaction students in August 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Each tried one of two Australasian and one of three ‘international’ web sites </li></ul><ul><li>Spent 10 minutes with each to answer a health question of interest to them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>on behalf of themselves or someone they cared about </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Completed anonymous questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Discussed experience in class </li></ul>
  7. 8. What were respondents like? <ul><li>44 of 143 students (31%) submitted questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Of those… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>80% male </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>66% aged 22 years or under (and only two over age 30) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>75% indicated English as their primary language (Asian languages constituting all but two of the remainder) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>91% had searched for health information on the Internet previously </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>34% had previously searched for health information for a family member </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Results – what did they like? Health On Net (HON) and US Medlineplus a bit ahead
  9. 10. Results – what worked? <ul><li>Medlinesplus or HON significantly more likely to provide what they were looking for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Odds ratio [OR] 5.74, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.21-25.16 </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Results – enough info? <ul><li>Significantly more likely to find enough info with HON or Medlineplus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OR 6.26, 95% CI 2.10-18.70 </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. Results – what did they want <ul><li>Asked about importance of particular types of features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Newsletters / stuff the sends info to them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personalisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Choosing type of information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Options if they mis-spell search term </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Terms to refine search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Site search engine </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search feature overwhelmingly important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>82% ‘very important’, 14% ‘important’ and the remainder ‘moderately important’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Majority of free-text comments were about issues with search features of sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting info at other times was least important </li></ul></ul>
  12. 13. Search further <ul><li>In discussion the students really emphasized Search and Google </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Would you use a health portal? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No, I’d use Google </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aren’t you worried about quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nah, I can tell </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Really; would you recommend a portal to anyone? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maybe to my grandma </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Discussion / Implications <ul><li>Search is king </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The youngsters don’t want to navigate when Google can take them straight there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implication – need good metadata and inherent provenance on each page of a website </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It’s hard to be good </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The really big websites significantly outperformed smaller cousins in providing answers (at all, and in desired depth) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implication – do you really have the budget to make a useful addition? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. Limitations <ul><li>They weren’t really sick </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People with serious and chronic illness will have different preferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>So, e.g., cancer, mental health are probably quite beside the point to this finding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Immediate’ users (e.g., HealthPoint) quite different, too </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then again, less tech-comfortable, esp. older, people will probably use their younger relatives for search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And many, more casual, health inquiries will probably follow the patterns of these students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We didn’t ask about all kinds of features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aussies say they want Web 2.0 features, too </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., post a comment </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Conclusions <ul><li>Metadata </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Every page must be self-documenting; indexed; referenced; linked (and current) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coverage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can you really answer the questions? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Possibly, Web 2.0 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., allow feedback </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Questions? <ul><li>Contact Jim Warren ( </li></ul>