Creating connections - the development of a mobile-health monitoring system for heart failure: Qualitative findings from a usability cohort study

Digit Health. 2016 Oct 10;2:2055207616671461. doi: 10.1177/2055207616671461. eCollection Jan-Dec 2016.


Objective: There is significant interest in the role of digital health technology in enabling optimal monitoring of heart failure patients. To harness this potential, it is vital to account for users' capacity and preferences in the development of technological solutions. We adopted an iterative approach focussed on learning from users' interactions with a mobile-health monitoring system.

Methods: We used a participatory mixed methods research approach to develop and evaluate a mobile-health monitoring system. Fifty-eight heart failure patients were recruited from three health care settings in the UK and provided with Internet-enabled tablet computers that were wirelessly linked to sensor devices for blood pressure, heart rate and weight monitoring. One to two home visits were conducted with a subgroup of 29 participants to evaluate the usability of the system over a median follow-up period of six months. The thematic analysis of observational data and 45 interviews was informed by the domestication of technology theory.

Results: Our findings indicate that digital health technologies need to create and extend connections with health professionals, be incorporated into users' daily routines, and be personalised according to users' technological competencies and interest in assuming a proactive or more passive role in monitoring their condition.

Conclusions: Users' patterns of engagement with health technology changes over time and varies according to their need and capacity to use the technology. Incorporating diverse user experiences in the development and maintenance of mobile-health systems is likely to increase the extent of successful uptake and impacts on outcomes for patients and providers.

Keywords: Qualitative research; digital health; heart failure; mobile health; patient participation; self-care.