Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where UX Really Matters

Like most UXCentrists, I can get pretty passionate about our users' experiences. Do we help them achieve their goals? Do we treat them with respect rather than as visits, clicks and purchases? Do they enjoy their time with us? That I emphasize Web experiences here at UXCentric doesn't diminish my passion one bit.

Time for a reality check. There are many, many settings where user experience is far more important than that of a mere Web site. Health care, for example. This week, the New York Times (registration required) has donned the cap of UXCentricity with an outstanding series on the human experience of health care—and it's vital reading if you have any interest at all in UX.

The series begins with a vivid look at the sea of information that inundates today's patients. A sample:
Last summer, with the second joint of his left big toe painfully throbbing from gout, Carl Schneider, a law professor at the University of Michigan who had already consulted his internist and a rheumatologist, leaned wearily against a hospital wall as three other doctors argued over which regimen he should follow. One doctor handed him a 20-page Internet printout that cited gout treatment studies, none of them definitive.

"At 57, it's a little late to be starting medical school," Mr. Schneider remarked acidly. "But the burden still falls on me, having to pick among opinions."
In today's examination of the medical "user's" shift from person to patient, Dr. Drew Altman of the Kaiser Foundation speaks UXCentrese:
"The point is that when they talk about quality of health care, patients mean something entirely different than experts do. They're not talking about numbers or outcomes but about their own human experience, which is a combination of cost, paperwork and what I'll call the hassle factor, the impersonal nature of the care."
The truth is, the importance of UX on a Web site pales in comparison to the critical human need for the the utmost levels of care—body and soul—when we are seriously ill or injured. The Times' series gives us wonderful insights into what experiences people value most.

UPDATE: (August 20): Part 3: Sick, Scared and Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

UPDATE: (October 13) Parts 4 and 5: Alone in Illness, Seeking Steady Arm to Lean On. Part 5: Treated for Illness, Then Lost in a Labyrinth of Bills.

UPDATE: (October 30): Parts 6 and 7: When Health Insurance Is Not a Safeguard and Part 6: For a Retainer, Lavish Care by 'Boutique Doctors'.

UPDATE: (November 16): Part 8: Young, Assured and Playing Pharmacist to Friends and Finding Information Online From Peers and Professionals.

UPDATE: (November 30): Part 9: When the Doctor is In , But You Wish He Wasn't.

UPDATE (December 17): Part 10: When a Worker's Health Crisis Deteriorates Into a Job Crisis and Breaking the News to Your Boss.

UPDATE(December 23) Part 11: Doctor's Delicate Balance in Keeping Hope Live and sidebar, Getting Answers in the Right Dose.

UPDATE (February 3) Part 12: When Trust in Doctors Erodes, Other Treatments Fill the Gap.

UPDATE(March 3) Part 13: Recourse Grows Slim for Immigrants Who Fall Ill.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.

3:21 PM  

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