JMIR Publications

JMIR Human Factors

Making health care interventions and technologies usable, safe, and effective


Journal Description

JMIR Human Factors (JHF) is a PubMed-indexed, peer-reviewed sister journal of JMIR, a leading open access eHealth journal  (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175).
JMIR Human Factors is a multidisciplinary journal with contributions from medical researchers, engineers, and social scientists.
JMIR Human Factors focuses on understanding how the behaviour and thinking of humans can influence and shape the design of health care interventions and technologies, and how the design can be evaluated and improved to make health care interventions and technologies usable, safe, and effective. JHF aspires to lead health care towards a culture of testing and safety by promoting and publishing reports rigorously evaluating the usability and human factors aspects in health care, as well as encouraging the development and debate on new methods in this emerging field. 
All articles are professionally copyedited and typeset, ready for indexing in PubMed/PubMed Central. Possible contributions include usability studies and heuristic evaluations, studies concerning ergonomics and error prevention, design studies for medical devices and healthcare systems/workflows, enhancing teamwork through Human Factors based teamwork training, measuring non-technical skills in staff like leadership, communication, situational awareness and teamwork, and healthcare policies and procedures to reduce errors and increase safety. Reviews, viewpoint papers and tutorials are as welcome as original research.

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Recent Articles:

  • Thought Challenger. Source: The authors; Copyright: Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs), Northwestern University; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Exploring User Learnability and Learning Performance in an App for Depression: Usability Study


    Background: Mental health apps tend to be narrow in their functioning, with their focus mostly being on tracking, management, or psychoeducation. It is unclear what capability such apps have to facilitate a change in users, particularly in terms of learning key constructs relating to behavioral interventions. Thought Challenger (CBITs, Chicago) is a skill-building app that engages users in cognitive restructuring, a core component of cognitive therapy (CT) for depression. Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the learnability and learning performance of users following initial use of Thought Challenger. Methods: Twenty adults completed in-lab usability testing of Thought Challenger, which comprised two interactions with the app. Learnability was measured via completion times, error rates, and psychologist ratings of user entries in the app; learning performance was measured via a test of CT knowledge and skills. Nonparametric tests were conducted to evaluate the difference between individuals with no or mild depression to those with moderate to severe depression, as well as differences in completion times and pre- and posttests. Results: Across the two interactions, the majority of completion times were found to be acceptable (5 min or less), with minimal errors (1.2%, 10/840) and successful completion of CT thought records. Furthermore, CT knowledge and skills significantly improved after the initial use of Thought Challenger (P=.009). Conclusions: The learning objectives for Thought Challenger during initial uses were successfully met in an evaluation with likely end users. The findings therefore suggest that apps are capable of providing users with opportunities for learning of intervention skills.

  • An image of Missouri Cancer Registry and Research Center (MCR-ARC) and the Area-Profile and Double-Map published InstantAtlas Reports. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Usability Assessment of the Missouri Cancer Registry’s Published Interactive Mapping Reports: Round One


    Background:  Many users of spatial data have difficulty interpreting information in health-related spatial reports. The Missouri Cancer Registry and Research Center (MCR-ARC) has produced interactive reports for several years. These reports have never been tested for usability. Objective:  The aims of this study were to: (1) conduct a multi-approach usability testing study to understand ease of use (user friendliness) and user satisfaction; and (2) evaluate the usability of MCR-ARC’s published InstantAtlas reports. Methods:   An institutional review board (IRB) approved mixed methodology usability testing study using a convenience sample of health professionals. A recruiting email was sent to faculty in the Master of Public Health program and to faculty and staff in the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The study included 7 participants. The test included a pretest questionnaire, a multi-task usability test, and the System Usability Scale (SUS). Also, the researchers collected participants’ comments about the tested maps immediately after every trial. Software was used to record the computer screen during the trial and the participants’ spoken comments. Several performance and usability metrics were measured to evaluate the usability of MCR-ARC’s published mapping reports. Results: Of the 10 assigned tasks, 6 reached a 100% completion success rate, and this outcome was relative to the complexity of the tasks. The simple tasks were handled more efficiently than the complicated tasks. The SUS score ranged between 20-100 points, with an average of 62.7 points and a median of 50.5 points. The tested maps’ effectiveness outcomes were better than the efficiency and satisfaction outcomes. There was a statistically significant relationship between the subjects’ performance on the study test and the users’ previous experience with geographic information system (GIS) tools (P=.03). There were no statistically significant relationships between users’ performance and satisfaction and their education level, work type, or previous experience in health care (P>.05). There were strong positive correlations between the three measured usability elements. Conclusions: The tested maps should undergo an extensive refining and updating to overcome all the discovered usability issues and meet the perspectives and needs of the tested maps’ potential users. The study results might convey the perspectives of academic health professionals toward GIS health data. We need to conduct a second-round usability study with public health practitioners and cancer professionals who use GIS tools on a routine basis. Usability testing should be conducted before and after releasing MCR-ARC’s maps in the future.

  • MyPrescribe user interface (montage). Source: The Authors /; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Technological Innovation to Reduce Prescribing Errors Based on Implementation Intentions: The Acceptability and Feasibility of MyPrescribe


    Background: Although prescribing of medication in hospitals is rarely an error-free process, prescribers receive little feedback on their mistakes and ways to change future practices. Audit and feedback interventions may be an effective approach to modifying the clinical practice of health professionals, but these may pose logistical challenges when used in hospitals. Moreover, such interventions are often labor intensive. Consequently, there is a need to develop effective and innovative interventions to overcome these challenges and to improve the delivery of feedback on prescribing. Implementation intentions, which have been shown to be effective in changing behavior, link critical situations with an appropriate response; however, these have rarely been used in the context of improving prescribing practices. Objective: Semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of providing feedback on prescribing errors via MyPrescribe, a mobile-compatible website informed by implementation intentions. Methods: Data relating to 200 prescribing errors made by 52 junior doctors were collected by 11 hospital pharmacists. These errors were populated into MyPrescribe, where prescribers were able to construct their own personalized action plans. Qualitative interviews with a subsample of 15 junior doctors were used to explore issues regarding feasibility and acceptability of MyPrescribe and their experiences of using implementation intentions to construct prescribing action plans. Framework analysis was used to identify prominent themes, with findings mapped to the behavioral components of the COM-B model (capability, opportunity, motivation, and behavior) to inform the development of future interventions. Results: MyPrescribe was perceived to be effective in providing opportunities for critical reflection on prescribing errors and to complement existing training (such as junior doctors’ e-portfolio). The participants were able to provide examples of how they would use “If-Then” plans for patient management. Technology, as opposed to other methods of learning (eg, traditional “paper based” learning), was seen as a positive advancement for continued learning. Conclusions: MyPrescribe was perceived as an acceptable and feasible learning tool for changing prescribing practices, with participants suggesting that it would make an important addition to medical prescribers’ training in reflective practice. MyPrescribe is a novel theory-based technological innovation that provides the platform for doctors to create personalized implementation intentions. Applying the COM-B model allows for a more detailed understanding of the perceived mechanisms behind prescribing practices and the ways in which interventions aimed at changing professional practice can be implemented.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Vic; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Modeling Patient Treatment With Medical Records: An Abstraction Hierarchy to Understand User Competencies and Needs


    Background: Health care is a complex sociotechnical system. Patient treatment is evolving and needs to incorporate the use of technology and new patient-centered treatment paradigms. Cognitive work analysis (CWA) is an effective framework for understanding complex systems, and work domain analysis (WDA) is useful for understanding complex ecologies. Although previous applications of CWA have described patient treatment, due to their scope of work patients were previously characterized as biomedical machines, rather than patient actors involved in their own care. Objective: An abstraction hierarchy that characterizes patients as beings with complex social values and priorities is needed. This can help better understand treatment in a modern approach to care. The purpose of this study was to perform a WDA to represent the treatment of patients with medical records. Methods: The methods to develop this model included the analysis of written texts and collaboration with subject matter experts. Our WDA represents the ecology through its functional purposes, abstract functions, generalized functions, physical functions, and physical forms. Results: Compared with other work domain models, this model is able to articulate the nuanced balance between medical treatment, patient education, and limited health care resources. Concepts in the analysis were similar to the modeling choices of other WDAs but combined them in as a comprehensive, systematic, and contextual overview. The model is helpful to understand user competencies and needs. Future models could be developed to model the patient’s domain and enable the exploration of the shared decision-making (SDM) paradigm. Conclusion: Our work domain model links treatment goals, decision-making constraints, and task workflows. This model can be used by system developers who would like to use ecological interface design (EID) to improve systems. Our hierarchy is the first in a future set that could explore new treatment paradigms. Future hierarchies could model the patient as a controller and could be useful for mobile app development.

  • Zoom in/out feature to manipulate 3D models to facilitate gaining a better understanding of the clinical guidance. Source: Figure 8 from; Copyright: the authors; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Fall Prevention Self-Assessments Via Mobile 3D Visualization Technologies: Community Dwelling Older Adults’ Perceptions of Opportunities and Challenges


    Background: In the field of occupational therapy, the assistive equipment provision process (AEPP) is a prominent preventive strategy used to promote independent living and to identify and alleviate fall risk factors via the provision of assistive equipment within the home environment. Current practice involves the use of paper-based forms that include 2D measurement guidance diagrams that aim to communicate the precise points and dimensions that must be measured in order to make AEPP assessments. There are, however, issues such as “poor fit” of equipment due to inaccurate measurements taken and recorded, resulting in more than 50% of equipment installed within the home being abandoned by patients. This paper presents a novel 3D measurement aid prototype (3D-MAP) that provides enhanced measurement and assessment guidance to patients via the use of 3D visualization technologies. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of older adults with regard to the barriers and opportunities of using the 3D-MAP application as a tool that enables patient self-delivery of the AEPP. Methods: Thirty-three community-dwelling older adults participated in interactive sessions with a bespoke 3D-MAP application utilizing the retrospective think-aloud protocol and semistructured focus group discussions. The system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire was used to evaluate the application’s usability. Thematic template analysis was carried out on the SUS item discussions, think-aloud, and semistructured focus group data. Results: The quantitative SUS results revealed that the application may be described as having “marginal-high” and “good” levels of usability, along with strong agreement with items relating to the usability (P=.004) and learnability (P<.001) of the application. Four high-level themes emerged from think-aloud and focus groups discussions: (1) perceived usefulness (PU), (2) perceived ease of use (PEOU), (3) application use (AU) and (4) self-assessment (SA). The application was seen as a useful tool to enhance visualization of measurement guidance and also to promote independent living, ownership of care, and potentially reduce waiting times. Several design and functionality recommendations emerged from the study, such as a need to manipulate the view and position of the 3D furniture models, and a need for clearer visual prompts and alternative keyboard interface for measurement entry. Conclusions: Participants perceived the 3D-MAP application as a useful tool that has the potential to make significant improvements to the AEPP, not only in terms of accuracy of measurement, but also by potentially enabling older adult patients to carry out the data collection element of the AEPP themselves. Further research is needed to further adapt the 3D-MAP application in line with the study outcomes and to establish its clinical utility with regards to effectiveness, efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of measurements that are recorded using the application and to compare it with 2D measurement guidance leaflets.

  • Patient and critical care clinicians. Source: Wikicommons; Copyright: Calleamanecer; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA).

    Iterative User Interface Design for Automated Sequential Organ Failure Assessment Score Calculator in Sepsis Detection


    Background: The new sepsis definition has increased the need for frequent sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score recalculation and the clerical burden of information retrieval makes this score ideal for automated calculation. Objective: The aim of this study was to (1) estimate the clerical workload of manual SOFA score calculation through a time-motion analysis and (2) describe a user-centered design process for an electronic medical record (EMR) integrated, automated SOFA score calculator with subsequent usability evaluation study. Methods: First, we performed a time-motion analysis by recording time-to-task-completion for the manual calculation of 35 baseline and 35 current SOFA scores by 14 internal medicine residents over a 2-month period. Next, we used an agile development process to create a user interface for a previously developed automated SOFA score calculator. The final user interface usability was evaluated by clinician end users with the Computer Systems Usability Questionnaire. Results: The overall mean (standard deviation, SD) time-to-complete manual SOFA score calculation time was 61.6 s (33). Among the 24% (12/50) usability survey respondents, our user-centered user interface design process resulted in >75% favorability of survey items in the domains of system usability, information quality, and interface quality. Conclusions: Early stakeholder engagement in our agile design process resulted in a user interface for an automated SOFA score calculator that reduced clinician workload and met clinicians’ needs at the point of care. Emerging interoperable platforms may facilitate dissemination of similarly useful clinical score calculators and decision support algorithms as “apps.” A user-centered design process and usability evaluation should be considered during creation of these tools.

  • Elderly couple with grandchildren. Source: Pixabay; Copyright: sylviebliss; URL:; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Tablet-Based Well-Being Check for the Elderly: Development and Evaluation of Usability and Acceptability


    Background: Many elderly people prefer to live at home independently. One of the major concerns raised by the family members is the safety and well-being of their elderly family members when living independently in a home environment. To address this issue, assistive technology solutions have been available in the market. Despite their availability and proliferation, these types of solutions are not popular with the elderly due to their intrusive nature, privacy-related issues, social stigma, and fear of losing human interaction. This study shares the experience in the development of a digital photo frame system that helps family members to check the well-being of the elderly, exploiting their desire to remain socially connected. Objectives: The aim of this study was to iteratively design, implement, and assess the usability, user friendliness, and acceptability of a tablet-based system to check the well-being of the elderly. Methods: Our study methodology comprises three separate stages: initial system development, contextual assessment, and comparative case study evaluation. Results: In the first stage, requirements were elicited from the elderly to design a well-being check prototype. In the second stage, areas for improvements (eg, privacy features) were identified. Also, additional features (such as medication prompts or food reminders) were suggested to help aged and health care service providers with effective but subtle monitoring of the elderly. These would lower their operating cost by reducing visits by care providers to the homes of the elderly. In the third stage, the results highlighted the difference (between users in India and Australia) in the levels of familiarity of the elderly with this technology. Some elderly participants at the Kalyani Institute for Study, Planning and Action for Rural Change, India latched onto this technology quickly while a few refused to use the system. However, in all cases, the support of family members was crucial for their willingness to use the technology. Conclusions: This project has three major outcomes. First, a picture frame prototype was tested with the elderly to leverage the benefits of social communication. Second, the project helped us test and implement the “Silvercare” model for supporting the elderly through young retired people residing in the area. Finally, the project helped formalize the agile three-stage design methodology to develop information technology solutions for the elderly. Also, the project contributed to an ongoing European Union Project called Victoryahome, which involves more than 50 sites across 5 countries (Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Portugal, and Australia) to assess the use of telepresence robots, wearable fall detectors, and medication dispensers for the elderly living independently.

  • Source: Shutterstock; Copyright: Spectral-Design; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    A Web-Based Graphical Food Frequency Assessment System: Design, Development and Usability Metrics


    Background: Food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) are well established in the nutrition field, but there remain important questions around how to develop online tools in a way that can facilitate wider uptake. Also, FFQ user acceptance and evaluation have not been investigated extensively. Objective: This paper presents a Web-based graphical food frequency assessment system that addresses challenges of reproducibility, scalability, mobile friendliness, security, and usability and also presents the utilization metrics and user feedback from a deployment study. Methods: The application design employs a single-page application Web architecture with back-end services (database, authentication, and authorization) provided by Google Firebase’s free plan. Its design and responsiveness take advantage of the Bootstrap framework. The FFQ was deployed in Kuwait as part of the EatWellQ8 study during 2016. The EatWellQ8 FFQ contains 146 food items (including drinks). Participants were recruited in Kuwait without financial incentive. Completion time was based on browser timestamps and usability was measured using the System Usability Scale (SUS), scoring between 0 and 100. Products with a SUS higher than 70 are considered to be good. Results: A total of 235 participants created accounts in the system, and 163 completed the FFQ. Of those 163 participants, 142 reported their gender (93 female, 49 male) and 144 reported their date of birth (mean age of 35 years, range from 18-65 years). The mean completion time for all FFQs (n=163), excluding periods of interruption, was 14.2 minutes (95% CI 13.3-15.1 minutes). Female participants (n=93) completed in 14.1 minutes (95% CI 12.9-15.3 minutes) and male participants (n=49) completed in 14.3 minutes (95% CI 12.6-15.9 minutes). Participants using laptops or desktops (n=69) completed the FFQ in an average of 13.9 minutes (95% CI 12.6-15.1 minutes) and participants using smartphones or tablets (n=91) completed in an average of 14.5 minutes (95% CI 13.2-15.8 minutes). The median SUS score (n=141) was 75.0 (interquartile range [IQR] 12.5), and 84% of the participants who completed the SUS classified the system either “good” (n=50) or “excellent” (n=69). Considering only participants using smartphones or tablets (n=80), the median score was 72.5 (IQR 12.5), slightly below the SUS median for desktops and laptops (n=58), which was 75.0 (IQR 12.5). No significant differences were found between genders or age groups (below and above the median) for the SUS or completion time. Conclusions: Taking into account all the requirements, the deployment used professional cloud computing at no cost, and the resulting system had good user acceptance. The results for smartphones/tablets were comparable with desktops/laptops. This work has potential to promote wider uptake of online tools that can assess dietary intake at scale.

  • A clinician using telemedicine. Source: Created by the Authors; Copyright: Shraddhaa Narasimha; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Toward a More Usable Home-Based Video Telemedicine System: A Heuristic Evaluation of the Clinician User Interfaces of Home-Based Video Telemedicine Systems


    Background: Telemedicine is the use of technology to provide and support health care when distance separates the clinical service and the patient. Home-based telemedicine systems involve the use of such technology for medical support and care connecting the patient from the comfort of their homes with the clinician. In order for such a system to be used extensively, it is necessary to understand not only the issues faced by the patients in using them but also the clinician. Objectives: The aim of this study was to conduct a heuristic evaluation of 4 telemedicine software platforms—, Polycom, Vidyo, and VSee—to assess possible problems and limitations that could affect the usability of the system from the clinician’s perspective. Methods: It was found that 5 experts individually evaluated all four systems using Nielsen’s list of heuristics, classifying the issues based on a severity rating scale. Results: A total of 46 unique problems were identified by the experts. The heuristics most frequently violated were visibility of system status and Error prevention amounting to 24% (11/46 issues) each. Esthetic and minimalist design was second contributing to 13% (6/46 issues) of the total errors. Conclusions: Heuristic evaluation coupled with a severity rating scale was found to be an effective method for identifying problems with the systems. Prioritization of these problems based on the rating provides a good starting point for resolving the issues affecting these platforms. There is a need for better transparency and a more streamlined approach for how physicians use telemedicine systems. Visibility of the system status and speaking the users’ language are keys for achieving this.

  • Nurse on phone. Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: monkeybusinessimages; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Personal Communication Device Use by Nurses Providing In-Patient Care: Survey of Prevalence, Patterns, and Distraction Potential


    Background: Coincident with the proliferation of employer-provided mobile communication devices, personal communication devices, including basic and enhanced mobile phones (smartphones) and tablet computers that are owned by the user, have become ubiquitous among registered nurses working in hospitals. While there are numerous benefits of personal communication device use by nurses at work, little is known about the impact of these devices on in-patient care. Objective: Our aim was to examine how hospital-registered nurses use their personal communication devices while doing both work-related and non‒work-related activities and to assess the impact of these devices on in-patient care. Methods: A previously validated survey was emailed to 14,797 members of two national nursing organizations. Participants were asked about personal communication device use and their opinions about the impact of these devices on their own and their colleagues’ work. Results: Of the 1268 respondents (8.57% response rate), only 5.65% (70/1237) never used their personal communication device at work (excluding lunch and breaks). Respondents self-reported using their personal communication devices at work for work-related activities including checking or sending text messages or emails to health care team members (29.02%, 363/1251), as a calculator (25.34%, 316/1247), and to access work-related medical information (20.13%, 251/1247). Fewer nurses reported using their devices for non‒work-related activities including checking or sending text messages or emails to friends and family (18.75%, 235/1253), shopping (5.14%, 64/1244), or playing games (2.73%, 34/1249). A minority of respondents believe that their personal device use at work had a positive effect on their work including reducing stress (29.88%, 369/1235), benefiting patient care (28.74%, 357/1242), improving coordination of patient care among the health care team (25.34%, 315/1243), or increasing unit teamwork (17.70%, 220/1243). A majority (69.06%, 848/1228) of respondents believe that on average personal communication devices have a more negative than positive impact on patient care and 39.07% (481/1231) reported that personal communication devices were always or often a distraction while working. Respondents acknowledged their own device use negatively affected their work performance (7.56%, 94/1243), or caused them to miss important clinical information (3.83%, 47/1225) or make a medical error (0.90%, 11/1218). Respondents reported witnessing another nurse’s use of devices negatively affect their work performance (69.41%, 860/1239), or cause them to miss important clinical information (30.61%, 378/1235) or make a medical error (12.51%, 155/1239). Younger respondents reported greater device use while at work than older respondents and generally had more positive opinions about the impact of personal communication devices on their work. Conclusions: The majority of registered nurses believe that the use of personal communication devices on hospital units raises significant safety issues. The high rate of respondents who saw colleagues distracted by their devices compared to the rate who acknowledged their own distraction may be an indication that nurses are unaware of their own attention deficits while using their devices. There were clear generational differences in personal communication device use at work and opinions about the impact of these devices on patient care. Professional codes of conduct for personal communication device use by hospital nurses need to be developed that maximize the benefits of personal communication device use, while reducing the potential for distraction and adverse outcomes.

  • Man using computer and smart phone. Copyright: Image created by the authors using; URL: Image 1 source:, Image 2 source:; License: Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0..

    Design and Usability of a Heart Failure mHealth System: A Pilot Study


    Background: Despite the advances in mobile health (mHealth) systems, little is known about patients’ and providers’ experiences using a new mHealth system design. Objective: This study aimed to understand challenges and provide design considerations for a personalized mHealth system that could effectively support heart failure (HF) patients after they transition into the home environment. Methods: Following exploratory interviews with nurses and preventive care physicians, an mHealth system was developed. Patients were asked to measure their weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose (if they had diabetes). They were also instructed to enter symptoms, view notifications, and read messages on a mobile app that we developed. A Bluetooth-enabled weight scale, blood pressure monitor, glucometer, and mobile phone was provided after an introductory orientation and training session. HF nurses used a dashboard to view daily measurements for each patient and received text and email alerts when risk was indicated. Observations of usage, cases of deterioration, readmissions, and metrics related to system usability and quality of life outcomes were used to determine overall effectiveness of the system, whereas focus group sessions with patients were conducted to elicit participants’ feedback on the system’s design. Results: A total of 8 patients with HF participated over a 6-month period. Overall, the mean users’ satisfaction with the system ranked 73%, which was above average. Quality of life improvement was 3.6. Patients and nurses used the system on a regular basis and were able to successfully identify and manage 8 health deteriorations, of which 5 were completely managed remotely. Focus groups revealed that, on one hand, the system was beneficial and helped patients with: recording and tracking readings; receiving encouragement and reassurance from nurses; spotting and solving problems; learning from past experiences; and communication. On the other hand, findings also highlighted design issues and recommendations for future systems such as the need to communicate via other media, personalize symptom questions and messages, integrate other health tracking technologies, and provide additional methods to analyze and visualize their data. Conclusions: Understanding users’ experiences provides important design considerations that could complement existing design recommendations from the literature, and, when combined with physician and nurse requirements, have the potential to yield a feasible telehealth system that is effective in supporting HF self-care. Future studies will include these guidelines and use a larger sample size to validate the outcomes.

  • Image source: From Figure 11: Older adult users carrying out tasks using the user manual as a guide during the user testing.

    A Human-Centered Design Methodology to Enhance the Usability, Human Factors, and User Experience of Connected Health Systems: A Three-Phase Methodology


    Background: Design processes such as human-centered design, which involve the end user throughout the product development and testing process, can be crucial in ensuring that the product meets the needs and capabilities of the user, particularly in terms of safety and user experience. The structured and iterative nature of human-centered design can often present a challenge when design teams are faced with the necessary, rapid, product development life cycles associated with the competitive connected health industry. Objective: We wanted to derive a structured methodology that followed the principles of human-centered design that would allow designers and developers to ensure that the needs of the user are taken into account throughout the design process, while maintaining a rapid pace of development. In this paper, we present the methodology and its rationale before outlining how it was applied to assess and enhance the usability, human factors, and user experience of a connected health system known as the Wireless Insole for Independent and Safe Elderly Living (WIISEL) system, a system designed to continuously assess fall risk by measuring gait and balance parameters associated with fall risk. Methods: We derived a three-phase methodology. In Phase 1 we emphasized the construction of a use case document. This document can be used to detail the context of use of the system by utilizing storyboarding, paper prototypes, and mock-ups in conjunction with user interviews to gather insightful user feedback on different proposed concepts. In Phase 2 we emphasized the use of expert usability inspections such as heuristic evaluations and cognitive walkthroughs with small multidisciplinary groups to review the prototypes born out of the Phase 1 feedback. Finally, in Phase 3 we emphasized classical user testing with target end users, using various metrics to measure the user experience and improve the final prototypes. Results: We report a successful implementation of the methodology for the design and development of a system for detecting and predicting falls in older adults. We describe in detail what testing and evaluation activities we carried out to effectively test the system and overcome usability and human factors problems. Conclusions: We feel this methodology can be applied to a wide variety of connected health devices and systems. We consider this a methodology that can be scaled to different-sized projects accordingly.

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