Although many factors hinder the adoption of consumer health technologies, poor design remains the biggest obstacle. This phenomenon isn’t limited to devices that are difficult to use — patient portals and personal health record services aren’t catching on either.
To that end, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has published a report focused on improving consumer health IT application development. Its conclusion: consumer health technologies need to catch up with the wider consumer tech market in terms of how they are developed, designed and marketed.
The list of applications and devices to emulate is not surprising — think Gmail, Facebook, the iPod, the Wii or any other tech you could explain to your grandmother.
More valuable, though, is the examination of application development methodologies. In short, agile and heuristic practices, combined with a top-down design approach and a high level of user involvement, are more likely to result in products that consumers love to use.
Naturally, this isn’t easy. The old If Microsoft designed iPod packaging video, though it focuses specifically on marketing, sums things up pretty well — it’s hard to resist the temptation to take something incredibly simple and make it annoyingly complex.
The moral of the story for consumer health technologies? Keep it simple, stupid.