Testing Consultation Recordings in a Clinical Setting With the SecondEars Smartphone App: Mixed Methods Implementation Study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2020 Jan 21;8(1):e15593. doi: 10.2196/15593.


Background: Health care systems are increasingly looking to mobile device technologies (mobile health) to improve patient experience and health outcomes. SecondEars is a smartphone app designed to allow patients to audio-record medical consultations to improve recall, understanding, and health care self-management. Novel health interventions such as SecondEars often fail to be implemented post pilot-testing owing to inadequate user experience (UX) assessment, a key component of a comprehensive implementation strategy.

Objective: This study aimed to pilot the SecondEars app within an active clinical setting to identify factors necessary for optimal implementation. Objectives were to (1) investigate patient UX and acceptability, utility, and satisfaction with the SecondEars app, and (2) understand health professional perspectives on issues, solutions, and strategies for effective implementation of SecondEars.

Methods: A mixed methods implementation study was employed. Patients were invited to test the app to record consultations with participating oncology health professionals. Follow-up interviews were conducted with all participating patients (or carers) and health professionals, regarding uptake and extent of app use. Responses to the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) were also collected. Interviews were analyzed using interpretive descriptive methodology; all quantitative data were analyzed descriptively.

Results: A total of 24 patients used SecondEars to record consultations with 10 multidisciplinary health professionals. In all, 22 of these patients used SecondEars to listen to all or part of the recording, either alone or with family. All 100% of patient participants reported in the MARS that they would use SecondEars again and recommend it to others. A total of 3 themes were identified from the patient interviews relating to the UX of SecondEars: empowerment, facilitating support in cancer care, and usability. Further, 5 themes were identified from the health professional interviews relating to implementation of SecondEars: changing hospital culture, mitigating medico-legal concerns, improving patient care, communication, and practical implementation solutions.

Conclusions: Data collected during pilot testing regarding recording use, UX, and health professional and patient perspectives will be important for designing an effective implementation strategy for SecondEars. Those testing the app found it useful and felt that it could facilitate the benefits of consultation recordings, along with providing patient empowerment and support. Potential issues regarding implementation were discussed, and solutions were generated.

Trial registration: Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12618000730202; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=373915&isClinicalTrial=False.

Keywords: cancer; consultation audio recording; implementation; mHealth; mobile apps; pilot.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Multimedia*
  • New Zealand
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smartphone

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12618000730202