Usability field study of older adults using multi-modal home health monitoring devices

Rita Hubert, Pace University


The use of telecommunications and home-based medical monitoring devices can provide a 'medical life-line' for persons with chronic diseases. Since these medical monitoring devices are used primarily by older adults in their homes, frequently living alone without someone to assist in the use of the device, it is critical to study the usability. Field studies in the homes of the older adults are used to identify usability issues and to evaluate the usability challenges for experienced and new users. Phase 1 and 2 methodologies include semi-structured interviews and video tape observational analysis of the participants as the basis for the quantitative and qualitative measures. Phase 3 of the study compares the usability of two home health monitoring devices designed to capture vital sign measurements and obtain patient responses to health related questions. The Phase 1 and 2 analysis of the qualitative results show high device, audio and input button satisfaction ratings for both the experienced participants and the volunteers. Phase 3 results also show that both devices studied were rated with high satisfaction by the testers. The participant's comments during the interview and video analysis provide insights into several areas for the further enhancement of usability for the buttons for both devices. A key finding of the qualitative portion of this research is that the participant comments about the device challenges provided during the semi-structured interviews provide much more valuable information about the usability of the home health monitoring devices, than the responses to the satisfaction questions. The Phase 2 results show that the satisfaction and quantitative measures (subtask time, button presses, number of errors, number of questions) are similar in the experienced test group participants and the inexperienced control group volunteers. And the Phase 3 study adds to the device button usability recommendations by obtaining interview and video observation criteria for a second home health monitoring device. The study concludes that the manufacturers of these two devices have considered usability in their design. Based on this study recommendations for further enhancements to the devices are provided for consideration by designers and manufacturers.

Subject Area

Computer science|Gerontology|Public health

Recommended Citation

Hubert, Rita, "Usability field study of older adults using multi-modal home health monitoring devices" (2006). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3225086.



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