Perspective Tackles Patient Engagement in Health Technology

August 20, 2014 in News

Health informatics application developers should better align IT products with patients’ daily social interactions and activities to boost engagement in self-care technology, according to a Perspective published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, FierceHealthIT reports (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 8/18).

Details of Perspective

The Perspective was written by:

  • Rupa Valdez of the University of Virginia;
  • Richard Holden of Vanderbilt University;
  • Laurie Novak of Vanderbilt University; and
  • Tiffany Veinot of the University of Michigan (Valdez et al., JAMIA, 8/14).

In the Perspective, the authors referred to the effort that patients and family members make for health care maintenance as “patient work,” which can include both physical and mental tasks ( FierceHealthIT, 8/18).

They noted that a “patient work approach to [consumer health informatics] draws on medical social science and human factors engineering models and simultaneously attends to patients, their family members, activities and context” (JAMIA, 8/14).

In order to better align technology with patient work and patient desires, the authors identified five key components technology developers should consider, including:

  • The individuals involved;
  • The physical environment;
  • The social-organizational environment;
  • The tasks to be completed; and
  • The tools that will be used.

The authors noted that if health technology used by patients adequately addresses those components, there is an increased likelihood that patients will perform a task correctly and use IT tools to self-manage their health (FierceHealthIT, 8/18).

According to the Perspective, future research is necessary to improve:

  • Techniques for incorporating knowledge and understanding of patient work into the design of consumer health applications;
  • Theories of patient work; and
  • Ways to analyze patient work.

The authors concluded, “Advancing a patient work approach within [consumer health informatics] is integral to developing and deploying consumer-facing technologies that are integrated with patients’ everyday lives” (JAMIA, 8/14).

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