Is the Practical Playbook Ready for Prime Time?

by Rick Austin March 13, 2014 04:15 PM

A few days ago, the deBeaumont Foundation, Duke University, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced the launch of the Practical Playbook, an online tool to assist in integrating public health and primary care.


I’ve spent some time on the site, and I applaud the intent of the project. Giving primary care doctors and public health officers more tools for working together and understanding each other’s work can only lead to good things.


But… Was this project beta tested? It’s been my experience that CDC’s involvement in a venture of this type is usually a guarantee that the design and structure have been pretty rigorously tested. Even a cursory look at the Practical Playbook reveals confusing, non-intuitive architecture, misdirected internal links, and some oddball design choices.


When you arrive at the main page of the Practical Playbook, the major categories “Learn,” “Do,” and “Share” pop up. The implication of the page design is that you can choose any category to start. Since the intent here is for healthcare and public health principals to work together for the first time, shouldn’t everyone be “learning” to start off? This sounds like quibbling, but you’re vying for busy, distracted eyeballs here. If it’s not crystal clear where your reader should go, your reader is going to pack up and leave.  


Some things you expect to be incomplete. For example, certain “Success Stories” categories are still empty; not surprising, given how new this project is. But why does a success story about cancer care suggest, at its conclusion, that the next story you’ll be interested in is one about IT investments and electronic health records?


Staying with the “playbook” metaphor, Practical Playbook has bobbled the ball, and needs to go back to the drawing board.

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