Workshop organization at the 31st Medical Informatics Europe Conference (MIE)

Last Saturday, we had the honour to organise a workshop at the Medical Informatics Europe Conference (MIE2021) about: “Solving the paradox: When usable eHealth applications are not used by the target population”. We started off by discussing together with the attendees the common facilitators and barriers of eHealth use. Within this discussion, Marian Hurmuz presented her results of a study conducted in the Back-UP project about the top 5 facilitators and barriers experienced by participants. The attendees then came up with other facilitators and barriers involved the use of eHealth.

Then after this discussion, Stephanie Jansen-Kosterink introduced the paradox we experience during our research projects: even when an eHealth application seemingly has good usability, it is still not used by the target population in a real-world setting. To solve this paradox, end-users can be involved in the developing process as co-developers or co-researchers.

These different roles of end-users were explained by two examples of research projects RRD is working in. First, Marijke Broekhuis prepared a presentation about the Salsa project in which end-users are involved within the project as co-developers. Within Salsa two service models are developed together with different stakeholders. This development process was explained to the attendees, which showed that when working together with end-users and stakeholders, the chance of successful implementation of eHealth will be heightened. Then, the Pharaon project was presented by Kira Oberschmidt to explain the role of end-users as co-researchers. Kira showed the attendees how the end-users are involved in each of the steps of the research project, and the type of tasks they can perform.

After introducing the different roles of end-users, we started a group discussion with the attendees to think together about the various tasks of the co-developer and co-researcher, the possible benefits of these roles, and the implications for their research. Examples of tasks attendees came up with were: end-users designing user interface, and end-users participating in focus groups. The main benefit of these roles was to better reflect on users’ needs, include more potential users and increase the adoption of eHealth. Finally, the possible implications that were mentioned was it is time consuming, and that researchers should consider how they reimburse their participants.

We enjoyed giving this online workshop. The attendees were enthusiastic and experienced the same paradox in their research. By raising awareness of this issue, and collaboratively discussing potential solutions, we hope to one day overcome the paradox of usable eHealth that is not used in practice.

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