Using the NIATx Model to Implement User-Centered Design of Technology for Older Adults

JMIR Hum Factors. 2016 Jan 14;3(1):e2. doi: 10.2196/humanfactors.4853.


What models can effectively guide the creation of eHealth and mHealth technologies? This paper describes the use of the NIATx model as a framework for the user-centered design of a new technology for older adults. The NIATx model is a simple framework of process improvement based on the following principles derived from an analysis of decades of research from various industries about why some projects fail and others succeed: (1) Understand and involve the customer; (2) fix key problems; (3) pick an influential change leader; (4) get ideas from outside the field; (5) use rapid-cycle testing. This paper describes the use of these principles in technology development, the strengths and challenges of using this approach in this context, and lessons learned from the process. Overall, the NIATx model enabled us to produce a user-focused technology that the anecdotal evidence available so far suggests is engaging and useful to older adults. The first and fourth principles were especially important in developing the technology; the fourth proved the most challenging to use.

Keywords: accessibility; aging in place; consumer participation; eHealth; independent living; technology; user-centered design.