The Trend of Mobile Healthcare Solutions, and Why UX is Critical in it

* This article is part of a White Paper called “3 Key Trends Shaping Digital Healthcare & Why UX is Critical in all of Them.”

Mobile healthcare app usability has specific requirements that set it apart from that of other consumer or business apps. Medical data privacy is a key aspect, as is regulatory compliance.

Less obvious perhaps but equally crucial, mobile healthcare apps must also be correctly usable by and for people under stress or with an impaired capability to focus.

The Care4Today™ Mobile Health Manager for instance uses simple color-coding to prompt patients to take medication at the right time; and, at the patient’s option, can automatically inform a physician or care-provider for appropriate action if a dose is missed.

Understanding Usability Requirements

From a clinician’s point of view, a mobile healthcare app should first of all offer the lowest risk of error possible.

Clinicians are often under pressure to operate at speed in a multi-tasking environment with limited or zero margin for mistakes. Streamlining their tasks is the next goal, on condition that correct levels of reliability and security are provided throughout.

Patients on the other hand may be debilitated by their illness and have difficulty in concentrating for more than a short period of time on what they want to accomplish via an app. App designs that limit features and functionality to the task or end goal concerned are therefore likely to score better for usability in both cases.

How Much Can You Rely on Users?

End-users of mobile healthcare apps demand security and data privacy.

However, they may not have a matching security-conscious attitude or behavior. Many patients are reluctant to remember yet another password. Indeed, over half the adult population use the same password for all applications, a huge vulnerability in terms of security.

Mobile solutions must tread the fine usability line between security mechanisms that are easy to apply but too lax, and those that are robust but too complicated.

Neither can solutions designers or vendors rely on users to tell them all their requirements, at least not immediately. The problem is not end-user honesty. It is simply that users themselves do not always know what they will need in situations outside a stress-free product test lab.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Mobile healthcare solutions by definition can be used virtually anywhere. The environment, the time and the state of mind of the user are all infinitely variable.

The adage ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ to understand the real needs of the end-user is true in general, but has special relevance here. Lyfechannel, the winner of the 2012 mobile app challenge launched by Healthfinder.gov did a large part of its user testing in the parking lot of a popular discount store to learn about truly representative user needs.

This article is part of a White Paper called “3 Key Trends Shaping Digital Healthcare & Why UX is Critical in all of Them.”

Claim your free copy by filling the form below.

The White Paper covers a range of topics including:

Chapter 1: Patient-Centricity and the Digital Healthcare User Experience

Chapter 2: The Growing Use of Electronic Health Records

Chapter 3: Mobile Healthcare Solutions

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Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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