UNU-EGOV actively engaged with Latin American and global experts on digital transformation at the annual International Conference on eDemocracy and eGovernment (ICEDEG), one of the premier academic conferences in Latin America, from 24-26 April 2019 in Ecuador’s high-altitude capital, Quito. Dimitrios Sarantis presented UNU-EGOV’s work on the development of health sector website assessment Instrument and outcomes in Portuguese hospitals, while Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen conducted a half-day tutorial on how to create an ecosystem and framework for digital public sector service delivery.
Developing a Health Sector Website Assessment Instrument: Outcomes from Portuguese Hospitals
The Internet has become a vital source of overall health information and seems to be a common source of information used by patients in the process of decision-making before choosing a health provider. Technology holds enormous potential for improving the operational and administrative efficiency of health sector institutions, improving services, optimising processes, and building trust between hospitals, patients and other stakeholders. Consequently, there have been increasing calls for evaluating health institutions websites, as they are widely considered to be the primary platform for interaction with patients.
Conducted by researchers Delfina Soares and Dimitrios Sarantis, the study extracts knowledge by assessing eighteen hospital websites from Portugal. This is particularly important as little is known about the provided services and use of health sector websites. This work applies a four-dimensional assessment tool (HSWAI). The four criteria for determining site development and effectiveness include: Content, Technology, Service, and Participation. This study evidences that the Portuguese health sector institutes should improve their websites, especially in terms of provided electronic services, as well as user participation issues.
How to Create an Ecosystem and Framework for Digital Public Sector Service Delivery
For public sector service delivery two elements are of particular interest here: first usability guidelines and standards, which have emerged as a directive tool to assist governments in its implementation; second, the governance model conceived to ensure compliance with the usability criteria as outlined in the usability guidelines.
With this in mind, researcher Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen conducted a half-day tutorial to introduce the theory and practice of online usability of public sector websites and online transactional service solutions (e-Services). The tutorial was anchored in the research and recommendations of Jacob Nielsen (1994, 1999, 2003) and Ben Shneiderman (2000, 2010), and the strengths and weaknesses found in four different national approaches to usability guides and compliance models for improved user-centric and value-adding public sector service delivery online. The secondary objective is to provide a synthesis of the strengths and weaknesses identified in a set of policy recommendations for increased usability and value-added of public sector online service offers.
Combining theory and practice, Morten mapped the national approach of Denmark, Portugal, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA) to recommendations made by Nielsen and Shneiderman. The cross-country comparison aimed to provide insights into current trends and standards for user-friendly government portals, websites, and online services, and identify any useful trends in the four approaches to design principles and requirements. The tutorial subsequently compared the four national approaches and capacities to ensure public sector compliance with the requirements and ability to keep up with end-user expectations to usability.