Friday, April 21, 2006

Being a Smart (Healthcare) User

With all the effort we UXCentrists put into our work, it's easy to forget that we are not completely responsible for the ultimate online and real world experiences of our end-users. After all, users are talented, intelligent, gifted people who can/should/must bear a goodly chunk of responsibility for how they experience our sites, services, stores and what-have-you.

I think that's especially true for healthcare—but its complexity, seriousness and expense all mitigate against informed user-patients. We still have a long way to go, but things are getting better.

For example, a couple of weeks ago while at Costco, I spotted YOU: The Smart Patient—An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment. A little paperback, it's by the authors of the bestselling YOU: The Owner's Manual—An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger. Other than a knack for long-winded titles, both share a somewhat irreverent approach and a very healthy dose of user friendliness.

Of the two, I found YOU: The Smart Patient by far the more valuable. With chapters on everything from choosing doctors and hospitals to dealing with prescriptions and health insurers, it's loaded with excellent guidance that shifts the balance of power more to the patient's side. Checklists tell you what to ask before you need to; references to online resources are plentiful—and there's a health journal form to get you organized.

It's a great example of how sharing a little insider information can significantly improve user experiences.

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