This chapter introduces a series of techniques and tools useful for developing patient-centered e-health. As information technology (IT) is revolutionizing health care delivery, a wide range of personal health information management tools have become available to the patients. The variety and quality of information delivered by these tools will determine how useful consumers find them. Equally important is how the information is delivered. To create quality e-health, designers must attend to the needs and wants of users by engaging them in the design and testing processes. User-centered design (UCD) is a formal approach to ensuring that new products address the needs, wants, skills, and preferences of the user throughout the tool’s development. UCD is a design and evaluation process which pays special attention to the intended users, what they will do with the product, where they will use it, and what features they consider essential. This iterative approach ensures that users’ needs and wants are met and ultimately increases the likelihood users will accept the final product. This chapter focuses on UCD methods and techniques, giving examples of how to use them and when.
Applying Ucd To Design Of Patient-Centered E-Health
UCD is a design philosophy and a process where the user is the design cornerstone, and his/her limitations, hopes and objectives are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. UCD seeks to answer questions about users and their tasks and goals, and then uses those findings to drive development and design (Katz-Haas, 1998). The chief difference from other interface design philosophies is that user-centered design tries to optimize the user interface around what people may need and what their capabilities are in order to fulfill a task, rather than force them to adapt to designers’ preferences.
There are countless methods, tools and techniques intended to help designers evaluate a target product or service (for brevity these are referred to hereafter simply as products) from the point of view of the user. By choosing an appropriate method, it is possible to learn in just a few hours how to improve usability of a product (Mauro, 2000). In this chapter we profile several useful tools and methods which will help an e-health design project to comply with the key principles of UCD. An exemplar set of UCD principles (UsabilityNet, 2006) is shown in Table 1.