Website Rankings for Digital Health Centers in the USA: Applying Usability Testing for Public Engagement. (Preprint) [post]

Joshua David Calvano, Edwin Lauritz Fundingsland Jr, Deborah Lai, Sara Silacci, Ali S Raja, Shuhan He
2020 unpublished
BACKGROUND As the public increasingly looks to the internet for resources and information regarding health and medicine, it is important that healthcare organizations provide adequate web resources. Usability refers to the ease of user experience on a website. In this study, we focus on usability analyses for digital health center websites. Our objectives were to develop adapt pre-existing usability scoring systems for United States digital health center websites, then apply this system to a
more » ... ple for the purposes of testing this system and deriving insights from the results on potential areas of improvement for this sample. OBJECTIVE The primary aims of the study were to: 1) Adapt a pre-existing usability scoring methodology to digital health centers; 2) apply and test this adapted usability scoring methodology on a sample set of digital health center website and; 3) derive recommendations from these results on potential areas of improvements for our sample of digital health center websites. METHODS All website usability testing took place from 1 March 2020 to 15 March 2020. We adapted a methodology and scoring system developed from previous literature and applied it to digital health center websites. Our sample included 67 digital health centers affiliated with U.S. universities or hospitals systems. Usability was split into four broad categories: Accessibility (ability of those with low levels of computer literacy to access and navigate hospital's Web presence), Marketing (ability to be found through search engines, examining the relevance of descriptions to the links provided), Content Quality (grammar, frequency of info updates, material relevancy, and readability), and Technology (download speed, quality of the programming code, and website infrastructure). Using these usability tools, we scored each website in each of the four categories. The composite of key factors in each of the four categories contributed to an overall "General Usability" score for each website. An overall score was then calculated by applying a weighted percentage across all factors and used for the final ranking system. RESULTS The category with the overall highest average score was Content Quality, with a 6.3. Content Quality also had the highest standard deviation at +/- 2.18, with a standard error of 0.27. The lowest performing category was Technology, with an average of 0.9. Technology also had the smallest standard deviation at +/- 0.07, with a standard error of 0.01. CONCLUSIONS Data suggests that Content Quality on average was the highest scored variable amongst digital health center websites. Because content is crucial to the knowledge of digital health it is justified that digital health centers invest more in creating quality content. The overall lowest scored variable was Technology. Potential reasons for this finding are related to designated funding for servers, a lack of regulatory framework around social media presence and liability, or infrequent website audits. An easy way to improve this variable is by increasing speed. Accessibility is another area in which these organizations have potential for improvement. In the effort to improve the dissemination of reliable information, this is arguably the most important variable for digital health centers to address. Our recommendation is that these organizations perform periodic audits of their web presence utilizing these tools.
doi:10.2196/preprints.20721 fatcat:a2elxbtjfrfuljgm4rggxp5osa