Understanding Development Methods from Other Industries to Improve the Design of Consumer Health Information Technology (Maryland)

Project Final Report (PDF, 3 MB)

Project Details - Ended

Project Categories

Summary:

While the use of consumer health information technology (IT) applications is expected to enhance quality of care by more efficiently engaging and empowering patients to participate in their health care, consumers have not adopted these technologies at the rates seen in other industries. One reason may be the lack of tools that take into account the complexity and diversity of personal health information management practices. These practices are impacted by a variety of factors including patient demographics, consumer goals, objectives, and perspectives, and a lack of tools to facilitate activities that individuals wish to accomplish.

This project conducted an environmental scan and grey literature review, and key informant interviews to identify consumer product development practices, guided by a technical expert panel, which may be relevant to the design of consumer health IT. Findings from these activities were used to generate recommendations for designers, developers, and vendors of consumer health IT products.

The environmental scan and grey literature review identified 18 product development methods that were characterized based on seven features: structure; iteration; span of approach; user involvement; design team composition; novelty of product; and virtualizability. Twenty-four successful digital consumer products were also identified and classified into seven classes: communication; eCommerce; information storage, archival, and retrieval; personalized entertainment; gaming; learning applications; and smart phones. The findings from the environmental scan and grey literature review are described in the "Improving Consumer Health IT Application Development: Lessons From Other Industries: Background Report" available at https://digital.ahrq.gov/developmentmethodsbackgroundreport.

The key informant interviews were conducted with nine participants representing successful products from five categories relevant to consumer health IT. These five categories included: monitoring information; communication; logging and recording activities or measures; searching for information and making comparisons; and information storage, archival, and retrieval. Interview results suggest that while there is considerable variety in design methods used for successful IT products, they all have underlying common characteristics representing best practices in design. Interview findings are summarized in the "Improving Consumer Health IT Application Development: Lessons From Other Industries Findings from Key Informant Interviews" report available at https://digital.ahrq.gov/developmentmethodskeyinformantinterviewsreport.

Findings from the environmental scan and grey literature review, along with feedback from technical expert panel members, were used to develop the "Designing Consumer Health IT: A Guide for Developers and Systems Designers" guide. This guide, which is available at: https://digital.ahrq.gov/developmentmethodsguide, presents suggested recommendations for designers and developers of consumer health IT products. Recommendations included are either general guidance for designers and design teams that can be applied to the process of designing and developing a product; or specific to a design phase such as idea generation, identification of end users, testing and commercialization.

Understanding Development Methods from Other Industries to Improve the Design of Consumer Health Information Technology - 2012

Summary Highlights

  • Principal Investigator: 
  • Organization: 
  • Funding Mechanism: 
    National Resource Center Task Order
  • Contract Number: 
    290-09-00023I-10
  • Project Period: 
    March 2010 – September 2012
  • AHRQ Funding Amount: 
    $409,388
  • PDF Version: 
    (PDF, 200.51 KB)

Summary: Consumer health information technology (IT) products that are designed for health information seeking, retrieval, storage, archiving, and health monitoring, can enhance the quality of health care by empowering consumers to play a more effective and collaborative role in their own care. Despite the potential of consumer health IT, health care consumers have been less eager to adopt and use technology than have consumers in other industries. According to the literature, a possible reason for the low use rates of consumer health IT products is the lack of robust commercially available tools that recognize the complexity and diversity of personal health information management (PHIM) practices. PHIM practices are influenced by a variety of user and contextual factors, including demographics, attitudes, user goals and objectives, and the range of tasks that the user wants to perform.

A project team of staff and consultants from the Center for Health IT at Westat, the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland, and the University of Wisconsin- Madison set out to develop recommendations based on key strategies that have been used to produce outstanding consumer IT products. This project built upon the Personal Health Information Management and the Design of Consumer Health Information Technology project, a previous Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded project. This new research identified successful consumer IT products based on market penetration, sales, and customer adoption and enjoyment. Next, the research examined the design methods that were used to develop these successful products through: 1) an environmental scan and grey literature review; 2) in-depth interviews with expert developers; and 3) guidance from a technical expert panel (TEP) that included consumer health experts, product design experts, human factors experts, and vendor representatives.

Project findings were used to generate a set of recommendations that provide design strategies that have been used in the development of consumer IT products in other industries. The recommendations are intended for anyone who is involved in building and marketing consumer health IT products. The recommendations focus on the design methods and issues to consider throughout the development process and into commercialization.

Project Objectives: 

  • Convene a TEP to bring together leaders in proven product development approaches and methods to generate insights and innovative ideas that are most likely to generalize to the design of consumer health IT. (Achieved) 
  • Conduct an environmental scan and review of relevant grey literature to locate research, tools, methods, opinions, and other material that reveal how the methods of other industries could be applied to the design of consumer health IT. (Achieved) 
  • Conduct key informant interviews to solicit innovative product development approaches that are likely to generalize to the design of consumer health IT. (Achieved) 
  • Develop a set of recommendations to guide consumer health IT vendors and developers in the design of health IT tools. (Achieved) 

2012 Activities: The focus of activity was on completing the key informant interviews and analysis of the corresponding transcripts, convening the third TEP meeting in March 2012, and developing the recommendations. The project concluded in September 2012.

Impact and Findings: In 2012 a summary of nine in-depth interviews (PDF, 987 KB) was developed to highlight the lessons about design methods used in other industries that were learned from the key informant interviews. The core findings were that successful consumer product design include: 1) market-based, consumer-centered, and intuition-based approaches during the design phase; 2) a solid understanding of customer needs and frustration with existing products; 3) prototyping and testing product concepts so that consumer experience can inform the design phase; and 4) the ability to demonstrate usefulness and usability of the product.

The final deliverable, available at: https://digital.ahrq.gov/developmentmethodsguide (PDF, 3 MB), offers a set of design recommendations for designers and developers of consumer health IT applications. The recommendations can be used to support the consumer product development process. Some recommendations apply to most or all phases of the product development process; others are directed to the beginning, middle, or end of the product development cycle. The guide can help design teams prepare for a new consumer health IT development effort or a specific phase by reviewing specific issues and considerations that may apply.

Target Population: General

Strategic Goal: Develop and disseminate health IT evidence and evidence-based tools to support patient-centered care, the coordination of care across transitions in care settings, and the use of electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of care.

Business Goal: Knowledge Creation

Understanding Development Methods from Other Industries to Improve the Design of Consumer Health IT - 2011

Summary Highlights

  • Principal Investigator: 
  • Organization: 
  • Contract Number: 
    290-09-00023I-10
  • Project Period: 
    September 2010 - September 2012
  • AHRQ Funding Amount: 
    $409,388
  • PDF Version: 
    (PDF, 178.52 KB)

Summary: Consumer health information technology (IT) products, such as those designed for information seeking, retrieval, storage, archiving, and health monitoring, can enhance the quality of health care by empowering consumers to play a more effective, collaborative role in their own care. However, despite the potential power of consumer health IT, health care consumers have been less eager to adopt and use technology than consumers in other industries. According to the literature, a possible reason for the low use rates of consumer health IT products is the lack of robust commercially available tools that recognize the complexity and diversity of personal health information management (PHIM) practices. PHIM practices are influenced by a variety of user and contextual factors, including demographics, attitudes, the user's goals and objectives, and the range of tasks that the user wants to perform.

A project team of staff and consultants from the Center for Health IT at Westat and the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland is building upon the Personal Health Information Management and the Design of Consumer Health Information Technology project, a previous Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded project. The current project strives to identify methods to develop better-conceived and more widely used consumer health IT. To that end, the project team is conducting an environmental scan and literature review to locate research, tools, methods, opinions, and other material to reveal how methods of other industries might be applied to the design of consumer health IT. A technical expert panel (TEP) will be convened, comprised of leaders in proven product development approaches and methods, to generate insights and innovative ideas related to the design of consumer health IT. Lastly, the team is conducting interviews with people who have expertise in consumer product design in other industries to provide additional perspectives that are generalizable to the design of consumer health IT.

Project Objectives:

  • Convene a TEP to bring together leaders in proven product development approaches and methods to generate insights and innovative ideas that are most likely to generalize to the design of consumer health IT. (Achieved)
  • Conduct an environmental scan and review of relevant grey literature to locate research, tools, methods, opinions, and other material that reveal how the methods of other industries could be applied to the design of consumer health IT. (Achieved)
  • Conduct key informant interviews to solicit innovative product development approaches that are likely to generalize to the design of consumer health IT. (Achieved)
  • Develop a set of recommendations to guide consumer health IT vendors and developers in the design of health IT tools. (Upcoming)

2011 Activities: The focus of activity in the first half of the year was on planning and preparing for the second TEP meeting, drafting the background report, which included the environmental scan and the literature review, and revising the report based on feedback from AHRQ. The second TEP meeting was held on July 13th. In mid-August, AHRQ received approval from the Office of Management and Budget for the project's data collection activity and the project team designated a set of 15 key informants to interview regarding successful products. TEP members help the project team contact key informants with whom they had a personal relationship. However, there were challenges in confirming interviews with all 15 candidates so the project team worked with AHRQ to identify one potential replacement interview candidates. Because of the delay in completing the interviews, AHRQ approved a contract modification to extend the date for completing the interviews to January 6, 2012. Nine interviews were completed by the end of December 2011, and work began on analysis of the transcripts of these interviews. The third TEP meeting was scheduled for March 7, 2012.

Preliminary Impact and Findings: As a result of the grey literature review and environmental scan, the project team identified and reviewed 18 product development methods and differentiated them on the basis of seven characteristics: structure, iteration, span of approach, user involvement, design team composition, novelty of product, and virtualizability. The team also identified 24 digital consumer products that have achieved marketplace success, which were classified into seven product classes including communication; eCommerce; information storage, archival, and retrieval; personalized entertainment; gaming; learning applications; and smart phones. The core finding was that although there is considerable variety in the design methods used for successful consumer digital products, there are common underlying characteristics that represent best practices in design. The report offers a set of design recommendations for designers of consumer health IT applications.

Target Population: General

Strategic Goal: Develop and disseminate health IT evidence and evidence-based tools to support patient-centered care, the coordination of care across transitions in care settings, and the use of electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of care.

Business Goal: Knowledge Creation

Understanding Development Methods from Other Industries to Improve the Design of Consumer Health IT - 2010

Summary Highlights

  • Principal Investigator: 
  • Organization: 
  • Contract Number: 
    290-09-00023I-10
  • Project Period: 
    September 2010 – September 2012
  • AHRQ Funding Amount: 
    $409,388
  • PDF Version: 
    (PDF, 263.92 KB)


Target Population: General

Summary: Consumer health information technology (IT) products, such as those designed for information seeking, retrieval, storage, archiving, and health monitoring, can enhance the quality of health care by empowering consumers to play a more effective, collaborative role in their own care. However, despite the potential power of consumer health IT, health care consumers have been less eager to adopt technology than consumers in other industries. According to the literature, one potential reason for the slow adoption of consumer health IT products is simply the lack of robust commercially available tools that recognize the complexity and diversity of personal health information management (PHIM) practices. PHIM practices are influenced by a variety of user and contextual factors, including demographics, attitudes, the user’s goals and objectives, and the range of tasks that the user wants to perform.

A project team of staff from Westat’s Center for Health IT, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland will build upon an earlier Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded project, Personal Health Information Management and the Design of Consumer Health Information Technology. The current project will strive to identify methods to develop better-conceived and more widely used consumer health IT. To that end, the team will conduct an environmental scan and literature review to locate research, tools, methods, opinions, and other material that reveal how methods of other industries could be applied to the design of consumer health IT. The project team will convene a technical expert panel (TEP), comprised of leaders in proven product development approaches and methods, to generate insights and innovative ideas related to the design of consumer health IT. Lastly, the team will interview key informants with expertise in consumer product design in other industries, to provide additional perspectives that are likely generalizable to the design of consumer health IT.

The combination of the environmental scan, literature review, TEP, and key informant interviews will provide a better understanding of development methods from other industries and will inform a set of recommendations to guide consumer health IT vendors and developers in improving the future design of consumer health IT.

Project Objectives:
  • Convene a TEP to bring together leaders in proven product development approaches and methods to generate insights and innovative ideas that are most likely to generalize to the design of consumer health IT. (Ongoing)
  • Conduct an environmental scan and review of relevant grey literature to locate research, tools, methods, opinions, and other material that reveal how the methods of other industries could be applied to the design of consumer health IT. (Ongoing)
  • Conduct key informant interviews to solicit innovative product development approaches that are likely to generalize to the design of consumer health IT. (Upcoming)
  • Develop a set of recommendations to guide consumer health IT vendors and developers in the design of health IT tools. (Upcoming)

2010 Activities: The project began September 15, 2010. The primary focus of activity during the first quarter of the project was on administrative and personnel activities in order to rapidly initiate the project. The TEP members have been identified and the first expert panel meeting was held on November 10, 2010. The environmental scan is underway. Interview tools have also begun to be developed.

Preliminary Impact and Findings: The project team has identified some products to review and characteristics to highlight. The team has also identified design methods and draft criteria to describe them.

Strategic Goal: Develop and disseminate health IT evidence and evidence-based tools to support patient-centered care, the coordination of care across transitions in care settings, and the use of electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of care.

Business Goal: Knowledge Creation

Designing consumer health IT: a guide for developers and systems designers.

Citation:
Designing consumer health IT: a guide for developers and systems designers. (Prepared by Westat under Contract No. 290-09-00023I-10.) AHRQ Publication No. 12-0066-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. September 2012. (PDF, 3 MB)
Principal Investigator: 
Document Type: 
Research Method: 

Improving consumer health IT application development: lessons from other industries, findings from key informant interviews.

Citation:
Montague E. Improving consumer health IT application development: lessons from other industries, findings from key informant interviews. (Prepared by Westat under Contract No. 290-09-00023I-10.) Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. July 2012. AHRQ Publication No. 12-0079-EF. (PDF, 986.99 KB)
Principal Investigator: 
Document Type: 
Population: 

Improving consumer health IT application development: lessons from other industries - background report.

Citation:
Agarwal R, Anderson C, Crowley K, et al. Improving consumer health IT application development: lessons from other industries - background report. (Prepared by Westat, under Contract No. 290-09-00023I-10.) Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May 2011. AHRQ Publication No. 11-0065-EF. (PDF, 1.47 MB)
Principal Investigator: 
Document Type: 
Research Method: 
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