Usability testing of an mHealth device for swallowing therapy in head and neck cancer survivors

Health Informatics J. 2019 Dec;25(4):1373-1382. doi: 10.1177/1460458218766574. Epub 2018 Apr 4.


The objective of this study was to conduct the first patient usability testing of a mobile health (mHealth) system for in-home swallowing therapy. Five participants with a history of head and neck cancer evaluated the mHealth system. After completing an in-application (app) tutorial with the clinician, participants were asked to independently complete five tasks: pair the device to the smartphone, place the device correctly, exercise, interpret progress displays, and close the system. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with the system. Critical changes to the app were found in three of the tasks, resulting in recommendations for the next iteration. These issues were related to ease of Bluetooth pairing, placement of device, and interpretation of statistics. Usability testing with patients identified issues that were essential to address prior to implementing the mHealth system in subsequent clinical trials. Of the usability methods used, video observation (synced screen capture with videoed gestures) revealed the most information.

Keywords: deglutition disorders; head and neck cancer; mHealth; mobile apps; usability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Health Literacy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications
  • Self Care*
  • Survivors*
  • Telemedicine*
  • User-Computer Interface*