The Journal of mHealth Vol 1 Issue 3 (June 2014) - Page 8

Deploying mHealth: Overcoming Barriers to Adoption Continued from page 5 oversight of multiple systems. EASE OF USE The manner and style in which a user interacts with the technology is a significant factor in terms of adoption. It is critical that a solution can be easily integrated into existing care pathways without necessitating additional burden or complication to the user. Usability factors are a major obstacle to health information technology adoption. While health IT such as mHealth tools can offer potential benefits, they can also interrupt workflow, cause delays, and introduce errors[2][3]. Lack of attention to health IT evaluation may result in dissatisfied users, decreased effectiveness, and increases in error costs. While the promise of mobile health is that we can leverage the power and ubiquity of mobile and cloud technologies to monitor and manage side effects and treatment outside the clinical setting, it is essential to be attentive to usability, keeping in mind its intended users, task and environment. User interface design can be even more contentious when dealing with patients as the end user. In a professional environment there is often technical support available should it be required, however, a patient at home is often unlikely to have access to similar resources. Therefore, the solution must be designed so that it can be easily understood, and so that it performs the task required without the need for unnecessary intervention from the user. Intuitive systems, that can perform complex monitoring and analysis, should be built into back-end elements of the solution, leaving the user-facing aspects to be simple and user-friendly. Designers also need to accept that users will have different social and technological intelligence, meaning that a solution needs to be designed so that it will perform, as desired, for different users. 6 Small text, poor colour contrast, overly complex menu systems, confusing settings, extended load times, and connection problems, can all cause difficulties. As a result, research must be undertaken in order to ensure that mobile health technologies are appropriately designed and targeted to the end-users’ needs, before they are used as health inter- June 2014 ventions[3]. QUALITY Increasing numbers of healthcare professionals are using smartphones and their associated applications in daily clinical care. While these medical applications hold great potential for improving clinical practice, little is known about the possible dangers associated with their use. Breaches of patient confidentiality, conflicts of interests and malfunctioning clinical decision-making tools could all negatively impact on care. A significant number of medical applications lack authenticity details; authors, manufacturers and distributors are not listed, and references are unavailable or out-ofdate[4]. It has been proposed that medical applications should be peer-reviewed by clinical experts and that regulatory measures should be increased in order to safeguard quality of care. This would allow healthcare professionals to be made aware which digital solutions lack evidence and professional involvement in their design and development[5]. (See article: “The Changing Face Of Healthcare: Quality in Medical Applications” on page 45). ENGAGEMENT Maintaining engagement with digital solutions is essential to ensure that they continue to be useful. Among patients in particular, the initial enthusiasm for using digital health applications to manage their own health, tends to wane fairly quickly. Developers and solution providers must therefore design systems in ways that continue to engage with users, and to encourage long-term adherence. This is an area that a number of companies are successfully beginning to navigate, by developing a whole range of ways to incentivise and encourage active engagement (See article: “Engaging Patients Using mHealth” on page 35). CONSUMERISATION OF HEALTHCARE The changing demands on healthcare systems are forcing providers to begin to consider patients as consumers. Techsavvy patients are used to managing so many aspects of their lives, with the assistance of technology, that they are beginning to demand to do the same with their health. As a result providers need to consider new ways of engaging and providing access to services, which means laterally diversify into offering technology to support their core competencies. As we have already discussed many difficulties can arise when you begin to scale these types of technologies. As a result healthcare professionals and care organisations should not have to be distracted from their main care priorities, by issues of technical management. In order to prevent this from happening care organisations need to enter into strategic partnerships with technology and digital solution providers, who can handle the technical aspects of deployment. Partnership strategies can work very effectively, but, they do still require significant oversight and central management, by the care organisation, in order to ensure that a coherent package of services is delivered. Commissioning partnerships also requires service level agreements,