The E-health Literacy Demands of Australia's My Health Record: A Heuristic Evaluation of Usability

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Journal Article
Perspectives in health information management, 2017, 14 (Fall)
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Background: My Health Record is Australia's electronic personal health record system, which was introduced in July 2012. As of August 2017, approximately 21 percent of Australia's total population was registered to use My Health Record. Internationally, usability issues have been shown to negatively influence the uptake and use of electronic health record systems, and this scenario may particularly affect people who have low e-health literacy. It is likely that usability issues are negatively affecting the uptake and use of My Health Record in Australia.Objective: To identify potential e-health literacy-related usability issues within My Health Record through a heuristic evaluation method.Methods: Between September 14 and October 12, 2016, three of the authors conducted a heuristic evaluation of the two consumer-facing components of My Health Record-the information website and the electronic health record itself. These two components were evaluated against two sets of heuristics-the Health Literacy Online checklist and the Monkman Heuristics. The Health Literacy Online checklist and Monkman Heuristics are evidence-based checklists of web design elements with a focus on design for audiences with low health literacy. During this heuristic evaluation, the investigators individually navigated through the consumer-facing components of My Health Record, recording instances where the My Health Record did not conform to the checklist criteria. After the individual evaluations were completed, the investigators conferred and aggregated their results. From this process, a list of usability violations was constructed.Results: When evaluated against the Health Literacy Online Checklist, the information website demonstrated violations in 12 of 35 criteria, and the electronic health record demonstrated violations in 16 of 35 criteria. When evaluated against the Monkman Heuristics, the information website demonstrated violations in 7 of 11 criteria, and the electronic health record demonstrated violations in 9 of 11 criteria. The identified violations included usability issues with the reading levels used within My Health Record, the graphic design elements, the layout of web pages, and a lack of images and audiovisual tools to support learning. Other important usability issues included a lack of translated resources, difficulty using accessibility tools, and complexity of the registration processes.Conclusion: My Health Record is an important piece of technology that has the potential to facilitate better communication between consumers and their health providers. However, this heuristic evaluation demonstrated that many usability-related elements of My Health Record cater poorly to users at risk of having low e-health literacy. Usability issues have been identified as an important barrier to use of personal health records internationally, and the findings of this heuristic evaluation demonstrate that usability issues may be substantial barriers to the uptake and use of My Health Record.
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