User-Centric and Inclusive Design Methods: Implications for E-Healthcare

User-Centric and Inclusive Design Methods: Implications for E-Healthcare

Alastair S. Macdonald (The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland), David Loudon (The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland) and Christopher S. C. Li (The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-266-4.ch010
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Abstract

This chapter discusses the role of user-centric and inclusive design methods in healthcare pathways. The rapid uptake of e-health technologies by clinicians and healthcare managers to administer, for example, patient records, has meant that user-centered e-health tools and processes should be adopted to enable those receiving healthcare to become more involved, more proactive in, and more responsible for their own healthcare and its planning. An argument for a user-centered approach as good business practice can also be made. The three case studies described in this chapter are united by a concern for the individual, the end-user, at the heart of healthcare processes, and how design methods, which have a strong emphasis on the consumer or user perspective, can assist the changing requirements for healthcare delivery through an improved, earlier and ongoing engagement with the recipients of health care.
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Context

The Age Shift

The ageing of populations is a phenomenon occurring throughout much of the developed world due to reduced total fertility rates and an increase in life expectancy. This is characterised by an increase in the proportion of the elderly, which is growing at a faster rate than the population of the world as a whole. The numbers of older people has tripled over the past half century and will more than triple in the next. The 20th Century saw life expectancy rise in the developed world by 30 years. Projections by the United Nations (2006) show that by 2030 at least half of the Western population will be over 50, with a life-expectancy for 50 year olds of a further 40 years, and that by 2050 the proportion of 65+ in the EU will comprise approximately 28% of the total population. Ageing in some regions will be particularly acute: in 2004, China’s elderly made up just 11% of its population, but by 2040, the UN predicts (Jackson & Howe, 2006) that this will increase to 28%, a larger proportion than for the US. Alongside changing demographic and improved healthcare there has been an accompanying shift from a predominance of infectious to chronic diseases. As populations age, the numbers affected by associated impairments increase, and pathologies tend to be complex in the geriatric domain (Isaacs, 1965). In older populations, the diversity and range of physical, sensory, and cognitive capabilities are higher as is the likelihood of co-morbidity.

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