Designing Home-Based Telemedicine Systems for the Geriatric Population: An Empirical Study

Telemed J E Health. 2018 Feb;24(2):94-110. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2017.0047. Epub 2017 Jul 31.


Background and Introduction: Telemedicine, the process of providing healthcare remotely using communication devices, has the potential to be useful for the geriatric population when specifically designed for this age group. This study explored the design of four video telemedicine systems currently available and outlined issues with these systems that impact usability among the geriatric population. Based on the results, design suggestions were developed to improve telemedicine systems for this population.

Materials and methods: Using a between-subjects experimental design, the study considered four telemedicine systems used in Medical University of South Carolina. The study was conducted at a local retirement home. The participant pool consisted of 40 adults, 60 years or older. The dependent measures used were the mean times for telemedicine session initiation and video session, mean number of errors, post-test satisfaction ratings, the NASA-Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) workload measures, and the IBM-Computer Systems Usability Questionnaire measures.

Results: Statistical significance was found among the telemedicine systems' initiation times. The analysis of the qualitative data revealed several issues, including lengthy e-mail content, icon placement, and chat box design, which affect the usability of these systems for the geriatric population.

Discussion: Human factor-based design modifications, including short, precise e-mail content, appropriately placed icons, and the inclusion of instructions, are recommended to address the issues found in the qualitative study.

Keywords: design issues; geriatrics; human factors; older adults; telemedicine; usability.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Electronic Mail
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcomputers
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Qualitative Research
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation*
  • Time Factors
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Videoconferencing / instrumentation*