Digital Health Equity and Tailored Health Care Service for People With Disability: User-Centered Design and Usability Study

J Med Internet Res. 2023 Nov 28:25:e50029. doi: 10.2196/50029.


Background: As digital health services advance, digital health equity has become a significant concern. However, people with disability and older adults still face health management limitations, particularly in the COVID-19 pandemic. An essential area of investigation is proposing a patient-centered design strategy that uses patient-generated health data (PGHD) to facilitate optimal communication with caregivers and health care service providers.

Objective: This study aims to conceptualize, develop, and validate a digitally integrated health care service platform for people with disability, caregivers, and health care professionals, using Internet of Things devices and PGHD to contribute to improving digital health equity.

Methods: The methodology consists of 5 stages. First, a collaborative review of the previous app, Daily Healthcare 1.0, was conducted with individuals with disabilities, caregivers, and health care professionals. Secondly, user needs were identified via personas, scenarios, and user interface sketches to shape a user-centered service design. The third stage created an enhanced app that integrated these specifications. In the fourth stage, heuristic evaluations by clinical and app experts paved the way for Daily Healthcare 2.0, now featuring Internet of Things device integration. Conclusively, in the fifth stage, an extensive 2-month usability evaluation was executed with user groups comprising individuals with disabilities using the app and their caregivers.

Results: Among the participants, "disability welfare information and related institutional linkage" was the highest priority. Three of the 14 user interface sketches the participants created were related to "providing educational content." The 11 heuristic evaluation experts identified "focusing on a single task" as a crucial issue and advocated redesigning the home menu to simplify it and integrate detailed menus. Subsequently, the app Daily Healthcare 2.0 was developed, incorporating wearable devices for collecting PGHD and connecting individuals with disabilities, caregivers, and health care professionals. After the 2-month usability evaluation with 27 participants, all participants showed an increase in eHealth literacy, particularly those who used the caregiver app. Relatively older users demonstrated improved scores in health IT usability and smartphone self-efficacy. All users' satisfaction and willingness to recommend increased, although their willingness to pay decreased.

Conclusions: In this study, we underscore the significance of incorporating the distinct needs of individuals with disabilities, caregivers, and health care professionals from the design phase of a digital health care service, highlighting its potential to advance digital health equity. Our findings also elucidate the potential benefits of fostering partnerships between health consumers and providers, thereby attenuating the vulnerability of marginalized groups, even amid crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Emphasizing this imperative, we advocate for sustained endeavors to bolster the digital literacy of individuals with disabilities and champion collaborative cocreation, aiming to uphold the collective ethos of health and digital health equity.

Keywords: COVID-19; caregivers; digital health care service; digital health equity; health personnel; heuristic; mHealth; mobile apps; mobile health; mobile phone; needs assessments; people with disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Cell Phone
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Equity*
  • Health Services
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Telemedicine*
  • User-Centered Design