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pdf How to Engage Patients with Mobile Design (.pdf)

Patient-centric mobile design puts the patient at the center of the experience and ensures that every interaction, however small, is as engaging and easy as possible. Arun Ramasubramanian, former Technology & Innovation Leader for Medtronic Care Management Services, shares his perspective on mobile design for patients with complex, chronic, co-morbid conditions.



Arun Ramasubramanian, Former Technology & Innovation Leader for Medtronic Care Management Services

Innovation is at the heart of healthcare transformation. As consumer technology propels us into the future, the healthcare industry is advancing the way patients engage in their health through mobile devices and applications. But patient engagement hinges on one important factor — providing patients with technology they can understand and will want to continuously use.

In the age of wide-scale mobile adoption and smart devices, it’s our responsibility as healthcare innovators to design solutions that are advanced in functionality, yet improve the patient experience.

Among the suite of Medtronic Care Management Services patient engagement platforms, we have mobile platforms that patients use daily to submit their symptoms and biometric data to their clinicians, who may use the data to focus care coordination on at-risk patients. Our goal is to provide an engaging experience for patients that encourages them to share their health information on a daily basis. As a part of one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, we recognize that technology design plays a key role in patient adoption and program adherence. After all, what good are advanced mobile technologies if patients can’t understand how to use them or aren’t interested in returning to the app?

That’s where patient-centric mobile design comes in. 

Putting the patient at the center of the experience

The goal of patient-centric mobile design is to make even the most advanced telehealth technology accessible and engaging so the patient is at the center of the experience and every interaction, however small, is as engaging and easy as possible. This is especially important for patients with complex, chronic, co-morbid conditions, who tend to be older and may be less technology savvy.

We follow several design practices that may significantly improve the experience for this population. Many are based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines established by W3C, the primary international standards organization for the Web.

To put the patient at the center of the design, industry best practices include:

  • Accessibility so users can easily read, interpret, and touch content on the screen, even when using screen readers
  • Usability to provide a user-friendly process that doesn’t feel overwhelming
  • Familiarity with icons and other design elements; for example, because the three-bar hamburger menu isn’t familiar to many older users, replace it with the word “menu”
  • Cognition to reduce mental load, such as simple progress bars that show users where they are in any given task

When designing our next-generation remote monitoring mobile platforms to be engaging for regular use, we included features such as:

  • Easy setup and log in
  • Written and audible prompts in daily health checks to help instruct patients
  • Large, consistently formatted call-to-action buttons with broad margins to help people with motor-control issues
  • Large, widely used fonts with sufficient spacing between letters, lines and margins
  • Colors and contrast ratios that work for patients with color blindness, macular degeneration, and light sensitivity
  • Clear and consistent navigation
  • Minimal steps to complete a task
  • No irrelevant information or complicated screens

None of this happens by chance, of course. A rigorous process is at the heart of patient-friendly design. It starts with interviewing key stakeholders such as nurses and client care services managers to gain end-user insights. Prototypes are designed and developed around patients with complex, chronic, co-morbid conditions. Testing with a range of patient groups takes place during and after development to validate and modify the design and functionality for target audiences.

The goal of this process is to create an experience that makes a broad range of patients feel confident, empowered, and engaged.

InterVIEW: Designed to keep patients engaged and educated

In November 2018, we launched the InterVIEW® mobile application, designed to be an “omni-channel” digital experience that evolves as technology and patient needs evolve. Today, it is supported on tablets and mobile devices, and in the future, it could scale to other consumer and healthcare technologies that patients may adopt, such as voice assistants, smart TVs, or virtual reality technology.

In designing InterVIEW, we followed patient-centric design principles intended to create an engaging patient experience that both asks patients for information and delivers information to them. As a result, we applied several features:

InterVIEW mobile design screen views
  • An easy-to-use interface based on design best practices, helping drive repeat engagement
  • Branching logic that queues up questions specific to a previous response
  • Personalized messages that change daily, encouraging patients to stay involved in their care
  • More than 70 videos that seamlessly integrate into the daily health check based on patients’ responses, designed to educate patients about their conditions and to encourage self-management
  • Clinician-initiated, real-time video calls, providing clinicians with actionable insights into a patient’s health status and environment
  • Reminders about upcoming video calls

Removing the technology barrier to remote patient monitoring

In the end, we’ve found that patients want their health technology to fit with their lifestyle — and patients have varied levels of savviness with technology. To remove complex technology as a barrier to engagement, we’ve developed a range of options for patients to engage with our service. InterVIEW is delivered through a dedicated tablet we provide, or may be accessed on a patient’s compatible phone for those who are comfortable engaging with mobile applications. We have other patient engagement solutions that span the technology savviness curve, from a simple tabletop device designed for in-home use, to a web-based application for those who prefer to be in front of their computer, to a solution that calls patients on their home phone for those who prefer very little “technology” at all. We let post-acute care providers and payers choose the option that best aligns with their patients’ lifestyles and habits, so that patients may more regularly engage.

Just as we did with InterVIEW, we will continue approaching technology innovation and mobile design focused on the unique needs of the complex, chronic, co-morbid patient population. With their feedback and feedback from those responsible for their care, we are committed to delivering solutions that provide an engaging experience that brings patients back to their health check each day.

The goal of this process is to create an experience that makes a broad range of patients feel confident, empowered, and engaged.

Arum Ramasubramanian, Former Technology & Innovation Leader for Medtronic Care Management Services