Incorporating Usability Testing into the Development of Healthcare Technologies

Incorporating Usability Testing into the Development of Healthcare Technologies

Shilo H. Anders (Vanderbilt University, USA) and Judith W. Dexheimer (Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8756-1.ch022
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The use of mobile devices in healthcare is increasing in prevalence and poses different constraints for use than traditional desktop computing. This chapter introduces several usability testing methods that are appropriate for use when designing and developing mobile technologies. Approaching the development of mobile technologies through a user-centered approach is critical to improve the interaction and use of the hardware and software that is implemented on a mobile platform in healthcare. User-centered design adds value by getting feedback about functionality, design, and constraints that need to be built into the system prior to its completion. Future work in this domain will require further tailoring and use of novel usability methods to evaluate and improve the design of mobile healthcare technologies.
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Mobile devices and associated technologies are transforming clinical healthcare systems, communication between patients and clinicians, and the utilization of personal health information. Advances in integrating mobile technology with the Internet, cloud computing, and clinical data systems provide unparalleled abilities to monitor, support, and motivate just-in-time clinical and patient-centered health decision-making. Examples of the potential of mobile technology transforming healthcare systems include providing low-cost, real-time means for assessing disease, behavior, environmental toxins, metabolites and other physiological variables, as well as integrating multiple sources of data from movement, images, social interactions, to inform health behaviors and healthcare decisions. With the increasing popularity of technologies, new issues arise that involve not just the accuracy of the medical advice but also the user’s interaction with the system. It is important to involve the users in the design and implementation of any electronic system, but it is also important to ensure the system is well designed.

Mobile healthcare (mHealth) technology has the potential to bring data and contextually appropriate support to patients, clinicians and researchers in ways never before possible but only if they are efficient, effective and easy to use. Mobile technology encompasses cellular telephones and tablet computers. In two US surveys, approximately 90% of adults reported using mobile phones with 61% of them using smartphones (Sterling, 2013), and approximately one third of adults have a tablet computer. (Pew Internet & American Life Project & Zickuhr, June 2013) Mobile devices have the ability to store reams of information in a small, convenient and lightweight device that is highly portable for easy communication or reference. Devices are frequently wireless enabled that allow a user to access wireless or cellular networks. The devices have the potential to provide both data stored on the device along with external data that can be accessed through network, like cloud-based computing. This provides a mountain of information and support at each users almost instantaneous disposal.

What are some of the issues with using mobile devices and why are they difficult to use?

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