Talya is a psychologist and Director at the Center for Medical Decision Making Ono Academic College Israel and was representing the University of Pennsylvania in the Mobile Healthcare University Challenge with a presentation of her research on “the human factor: thinking outside the mobile”.
The discussion centered around the lessons from some empirical research that was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research which involved patients using a “mood app” for mobile phones (pictured above) that was developed by Margaret Morris, a psychologist and health technology researcher at Intel. Talya explained how behavioural insights can influence design and make a difference by improving comprehension, increasing motivation, helping make sense of data and converting it into long-term changes.
Talya looked at how mobiles were always there (it’s 5th unique ability as the newest mass media – “available at the point of creative impulse”) when the need is pressing enabling patients to benefit from “internal motivation”:
And used this picture of the SimpleMed device to make the point of how current medical device offerings represent such motivational and cognition challenges to patients:
Talya then suggested that this was continuing to be seen in the complexity of iPhone Health apps being sold on the Apple Appstore making the point using the “Red Ribbon App” for HIV patients and suggesting that it may offer information overload…
To my mind this is actually a very minor issue (compared to the much more significant patient privacy issues that Tayla didn’t address). Just to get a feel of things I showed the Red Ribbon App to a Doctor today and they actually felt that it was perfectly usable and that they would welcome such an application if it was produced by a patient who was seeing them for the first time and had no electronic healthcare record.
Talya then showed us these screenshots showing a medication/pillbox application (again running on the iPhone) and again asked the audience if they felt it was information overload?:
Again, just to get the feel of things, I showed this to a practising doctor who again said that they think this would be preferable to this than having to rely on the convention which is a recollection from memory in the time pressured environment of a consultation.
Talya then showed the Healthy Heart Journal app and asked: what does the info mean? What should the patient to? Does the patient care? Do they use the app?
Things which I thought we all realised were quite obvious, but here goes: This data can be invaluable to doctors who want to be able to engage their patients in their care and remotely monitor them for a wide variety of reasons e.g. COPD, post-operative etc etc. The patient is encouraged to continue entering data (ideally via automatic upload via Bluetooth from their wirelessly connected blood pressure monitoring device) so that the care provider can take better care of them. The patient cares because this means they get the more personalised service from the doctor and aren’t making unnecessary visits to a clinic. This is attractive to patients because it’s a low-cost intervention and it saves them time and money (that they would otherwise be spending on unneccessary clinic visits). Motivation can be delivered in a million different ways e.g. SMS, nurse calls or even just a little bit of silence…
After the service has been designed to manage the clinician requirements and is working on a lowest common denominator device that is already being used by the particular patients you’re targeting, I’m not convinced there is actually going to be a better means of improving it than by subjecting it to the rather democratic Appstore rating systems (where actual patients can provide feedback), by sneaking a peak at the competition, and from experimentation and listening to what the market says it wants and is prepared to pay for…
Obviously this is very different than for mobile service developers targeting patients with little experience/interest in mobile devices, but the companies I’ve met with in this space eg. Doro, Jitterbug, Emporia have already had to go a very long way down this road in order to acheive their sales targets.
Reading through this post it seems like I’m being a little negative about Tayla’s content, but my feelings are completely the opposite. This is the first psychologist I’ve heard talking about mHealth and it’s obvious that we need to see a lot more focus on this area. Fabio Sergio of Frog Design has showed some nice mHealth design possibilities in his workshop at last years event but I noticed that this presentation really got people to start talking and I look forward to checking out some of Talya’s developing work in this area. Join me in following her on Psychology Today where there is already an excellent blog post following her experience at the event: “Three tips for the mobile healthcare industry: What grumpy women can teach the mobile health industry”
This blog post is part of a series of mHealth reviews from the 2nd Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit 2010. Click here to get the full review.