Why is it easier to access your pet's medical record than your own?

Our pets' medical records are more functional and user-friendly than our own. The reasons why are multifactorial and more complicated than you may think, José A. Pagán, PhD, director of the Center for Health Innovation at the New York Academy of Medicine, wrote in a post for the Health Affairs blog.

Mr. Pagán describes his pets' medical record portals as modern-looking, professionally designed, readable and uncluttered. There are options for picture attachments and the interface is easy to navigate, including a dashboard that allows pet owners to track changes over time. As an owner, he is even encouraged to use the portal to interact with his pets' veterinary team and has access to frequently asked questions that organize procedures and information into easily understood components.

So what is the missing link between human patient portals and medical records? The first reason Mr. Pagán cites is privacy concerns resulting in legal and regulatory barriers, which pet owners don't contend with. Another is design-based.

"Part of the problem has to do with design processes for web portals that focus on technology solutions rather than starting with what consumers really need," Mr. Pagán wrote. "As such, a key design step is to ask patients about what they would like to see in a web portal and work with organizations representing potential users throughout the full design process. A web portal where information technology requirements become more important than patient requirements is essentially a web portal designed backwards and, thus, unlikely to appeal to potential users."

People who design web portals for the medical information of animals seem to have a much better grasp of what their customers are looking for, Mr. Pagán writes. Part of the issue could also be that patients are still not fully recognized as customers when it comes to some health services and products.

While that is likely to change quickly, the core takeaway is web portals must appeal to users if quality is going to improve.

Read the full post here.

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