Abstract

The potential to use information and communication technology to support lay persons engaged in self-care and disease management is significant. However, the application of information and communication technology must be implemented after careful study of the home environment and after considering the implications of introducing such technologies. The purpose of this study is to identify key considerations for designing and introducing information technology into the home. When conducting a home assessment, it is important to address the relevant issues within the household (social, physical, and technological) as well as other sectors in the community in order to better serve potential users. Establishing design considerations from the user's perspective is essential for the appropriate and effective implementation of information technology. Background: The potential to use information and communication technology to support lay persons engaged in self-care and disease management is significant. However, the application of information and communication technology must be implemented after careful study of the home environment and after considering the implications of introducing such technologies. Venkatesh and Mazumdar characterize the home as three interacting spaces: social, physical or spatial, and technological. This framework is used to guide and organize the findings.

The purpose of this study--The Health@Home project--is to develop an information technology solution that will help lay persons manage health information in the home. The specific research objectives are to: (a) study how people manage information in their homes, (b) study where and how information is accessed and/or disseminated in the home, and (c) study the technology readiness of the home.

Methods: One-hundred in-home, in-depth interviews of participants will be conducted in a mid-western rural community in the United States. During a one-hour interview, researchers ask questions from a structured survey, take pictures of methods/places used to manage health information, and draw a layout of the household. Study participants are the self-identified primary health information manager of the household (i.e., the person most responsible for managing health information in the home). Eleven interviews have been conducted to date.

Findings: Key issues to consider when introducing information technologies in the home are: (a) the primary health information manager is most likely the female head of the household with other responsibilities and tasks, (b) health information is generally stored in a variety of locations throughout the house and not necessarily in a single functional storage space such as a filing cabinet, (c) the most frequently used information and/or devices are those that are most accessible, (d) technologies introduced to the home must meet a broad range of individual needs and motivations, as not all participants showed the same interest in having access to health information, (e) accessibility and privacy issues are important when designing a technology solution, (f) it is important to know who will have or need access to health information, particularly for families with children and young adults assuming a more active role in managing their own health information, (g) tailored solutions may be needed to meet individual needs and expectations, due to a range of health conditions, (h) technological solutions should be compatible with other devices and able to incorporate different types of information, and (i) future solutions may need to be mobile in order to function within the physical layout and constraints of the home environment.

Conclusion: When conducting a home assessment, it is important to address the relevant issues within the household (social, physical, and technological) as well as other sectors in the community in order to better serve potential users. Establishing design considerations from the user's perspective is essential for the appropriate and effective implementation information technology.

Reference: Zayas-Caban T. Introducing information technology into the home: Conducting a home assessment. Procedings/AMIA…Annual Symposium. AMIA Symposium. 2002: 924-928.