Submission Type

Empirical Research


Usability evaluation, personal health record, self-management


Introduction: Electronic personal health record-based (ePHR-based) self-management systems can improve patient engagement and have an impact on health outcomes. In order to realize the benefits of these systems, there is a need to develop and evaluate heath information technology from the same theoretical underpinnings.

Methods: Using an innovative usability approach based in human-centered distributed information design (HCDID), we tested an ePHR-based falls-prevention self-management system—Self-Assessment via a Personal Health Record (i.e., SAPHeR)—designed using HCDID principles in a laboratory. And we later evaluated SAPHeR’s use by community-dwelling older adults at home.

Results: The innovative approach used in this study supported the analysis of four components: tasks, users, representations, and functions. Tasks were easily learned and features such as text-associated images facilitated task completion. Task performance times were slow, however user satisfaction was high. Nearly seven out of every ten features desired by design participants were evaluated in our usability testing of the SAPHeR system. The in vivo evaluation suggests that older adults could improve their confidence in performing indoor and outdoor activities after using the SAPHeR system.

Discussion/Conclusion: We have applied an innovative consumer-usability evaluation. Our approach addresses the limitations of other usability testing methods that do not utilize consistent theoretically based methods for designing and testing technology. We have successfully demonstrated the utility of testing consumer technology use across multiple components (i.e., task, user, representational, functional) to evaluate the usefulness, usability, and satisfaction of an ePHR-based self-management system.

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