Evaluating the Implementation of a Remote-Monitoring Program for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Qualitative Methods from a Service Design Perspective

J Med Internet Res. 2020 Oct 9;22(10):e18148. doi: 10.2196/18148.


Background: Implementing digital health technologies is complex but can be facilitated by considering the features of the tool that is being implemented, the team that will use it, and the routines that will be affected.

Objective: The goal of this study was to assess the implementation of a remote-monitoring initiative for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Ontario, Canada using the Tool+Team+Routine framework and to refine this approach to conceptualize the adoption of technologies in health care.

Methods: This study was a qualitative research project that took place alongside a randomized controlled trial comparing a technology-enabled self-monitoring program with a technology-enabled self- and remote-monitoring program in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and with standard care. This study included interviews with 5 remote-monitoring patients, 3 self-monitoring patients, 2 caregivers, 5 health care providers, and 3 hospital administrators. The interview questions were structured around the 3 main concepts of the Tool+Team+Routine framework.

Results: Findings emphasized that (1) technologies can alter relationships between providers and patients, and that these relationships drove the development of a new service arising from the technology, in our case, and (2) technologies can create additional work that is not visible to management as a result of not being considered within the scope of the service.

Conclusions: Literature on the implementation of digital health technologies has still not reconciled the importance of interpersonal relationships to conventional implementation strategies. By acknowledging the centrality of such relationships, implementation teams can better plan for the adaptations required in order to make new technologies work for patients and health care providers. Further work will need to address how specific individuals administering a remote-monitoring program work to build relationships, and how these relationships and other sources of activity might lead to technological scope creep-an unanticipated expanding scope of work activities in relation to the function of the tool.

Keywords: digital health; implementation science; innovation; remote monitoring; service design; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Telemedicine / methods*