Co-design why bother?

The Oxford based Seamless User-centred Proactive Provision of Risk-stratified Treatment for Heart Failure (SUPPORT-HF) multidisciplinary research team, which includes biomedical engineers, health informatics specialists, clinicians and a qualitative researcher, is developing a mobile health (m-health) application for heart failure.

With appropriate back up from health care professionals this application aims to help heart failure patients manage their chronic condition at home. Given our goal of starting to recruit research participants by the end of May 2013 we decided to take stock and hold a co-design workshop with heart failure patients and their 'carers'.

The workshop took place on 17 April 2012 and involved seven patients (aged 50-85) and five family members. It was a great forum to commence evaluating the usability of the application (delivered via a Tablet PC) and related measurement equipment.

After a brief introduction to the study by Dr Rahimi, workshop participants spent 10-15 minutes at five different stations where they could try out the equipment, complete a symptom diary on a regular or seven inch touch screen, and watch video clips.

We were encouraged by the enthusiasm of the workshop participants and received important design and engineering feedback which will help refine the m-health application before we commence recruitment. Most participants valued the home monitoring system’s potential to 'serve as a safety net' alerting them to when they need to contact their clinician or community heart failure nurse.

We will now use the feedback from this user group to refine the monitoring system before its further testing in people’s homes.