Monday, June 08, 2009

FYI - homework 4

Discussion Assignment #1

The Six dimensions of health care performance, do not apply for websites.  A website has different elements of functionality and usefulness other than overall "health care performance."   All the performance elements would be based on the proper enacting and using the information on the website.  If I miss-read or skip steps in any health recommendations the performance measures of safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity will be dismal regardless of what the website says or provides. 


The elements of quality are different for websites to be more than purely subjective.  Website impact on my health would regard the monitor radiation effects on my eyes, the keyboard and mouse effects on my hands for example regarding carpal tunnel syndrome. Each individual experience will bring a different quality of Health Care Performance.  If I viewed the website in the library or on a big flat plasma screen the quality of the experience will be substantially different.


However, another class conducted a "survey" of 30 students with the question "What is a Quality Website?"  This resulted in the attached Pareto Diagram where 1) Functionality, 2) Aesthetics, 3) Truth and 4) Simplicity were the top four rated elements of Quality.


I returned to the original article "What's New (Or Improved) In Health Sites" published at the Wall Street Journal website: where I selected from their additional health websites listed:—Offers health-risk assessments, symptom checker, and personalized lists of questions to ask your doctor based on conditions and symptoms. Allows users to create blogs and join online communities.


1) Functionality - is great.  Each click works, I can find and use things easily.  They have a "Symptom Checker" where you can click on the part of the body that is hurting where a list of symptoms comes up to read and review.  It's very simple and easy to use, where I can get detailed information about symptoms, causes and solutions with references.  There is also an alphabetical drug database which includes important topics such as Foods to Avoid, Storage & Disposal, Warnings and Side- effects.  This data does NOT have a list of references so I tend to wonder if it is promoted or supported by drug sales.


2) Aesthetics - this website is easy to read.  The colors are pleasing to my eye and I was able to make the text size larger very easily.  They have some ads in the normal places on the top and right-side down the margins, but nothing too annoying or excessive.  The videos did include intro-commercials I've seen before, somewhat annoying, but not excessive.  The allergy video came with all sorts of ads for assorted allergy drugs.  But the Video included homeopathic techniques so it's not only one perspective.  I did click on a few other sites listed in this article and closed it after the ads got too annoying.  This site does have a membership option where I can get newsletter and coupons for my needs, but I did not see if I can also adjust the colors and format to my taste as well.  Often members can shut-off ads for a fee.


3) Truth – As mentioned easier there are references posted with information given.  The website is a registered member of the Health On the Net Foundation designed to "promote the effective and reliable use of the new technologies for telemedicine in healthcare around the world." was created to protect citizens from misleading health information.  I was impressed to see so many different perspectives, and even surprised by many homeopathic videos.


4) Simplicity – accessing the information was easy.  I could find data easily, and most the tools and menus were self-explanatory.  It was easy to navigate and the site map, about and other features are within website standards. 


Equally addressing the "health care performance" terms as well:


  1. safety – The website was easy to use, I never hurt my finger clicking the mouse.  I listened to some videos that improved my safety, and never had the volume too high for my ears.  I learned how important diet is to avoid cancer.  Eating lots of fiber, fruits and veggies with every meal, and not only avoiding the processed foods - - where the FDA lists benzene as "natural Flavor" as it is in the cleaning compounds required for processing machinery "naturally" showing up in everything! 
  2. effectiveness – This website was very effective at presenting important information.
  3. patient-centeredness – information was easy to find and tailed to my needs.  I could find what I wanted whenever I wanted.  There were some annoying ads, but nothing excessive.
  4. timeliness – most information was very valid.  I noticed current news events and articles.  I got everything I needed quickly, once or twice I waited for some ad-graphic to load before getting the information I wanted.  Ads support free sites like this, so I tolerate them more when I see good information provided.
  5. efficiency - I have efficiently learned about diet, bones, heart conditions and a few other health issues while typing this posting.  Running the videos in th ebackground while typing was very efficient, even if I had to ignore the ads.
  6. equity – the site is free to use, and the ads obviously paid for it.  I was thrilled to see Bounty paper-towel ads and other simple products and not all drug ads, but there were some ads showing up when I clicked related items as mentioned with the allergy video.  This is likely a very profitable website.


Weakness – I was not able to find several drugs that were advertised on their website.  You think they would be careful only to advertise things that they provided detailed information about.  It's not clear where the drug data comes from and when advertised drugs are not listed I tend to feel there is something deceptive here which makes me more skeptical on everything else I found.  Though talking about Green Tea and Yoga for Allergies was inspiring.


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