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Using Heuristic Design Methods to Build a Home Kit for Remote Monitoring of Parkinson's disease
Event Type
Oral Presentations
TimeWednesday, April 143:30pm - 3:50pm EDT
LocationPatient Safety Research and Initiatives
DescriptionPatients with Parkinson’s disease gradually experience loss of eyesight and fine motor skills, Over one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease and require consistent healthcare to manage developing symptoms and monitor disease progression. According to literature, in rural areas patients find it increasingly difficult to manage the frequency of physician visits and interactions as they live miles away from the appropriate specialists. Telehealth appointments can minimize the frequency of in-person clinic visits for patients who live in rural areas, preventing excessive transportation costs and inconveniences. Technology can assist with these telehealth encounters and improve the documentation of symptoms between encounters therefore allowing the physician to interact with the patient at a more detailed level. We have proposed an at home kit, to enable logging of a patient’s daily or weekly state and offer physicians a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s health at any given moment. This project describes the application of usability design principles in creation of the at-home Parkinson’s disease monitoring kit.

Using heuristic design techniques and methods of analysis (Zhang, 2003), we constructed a kit to be used by patients with Parkinson's disease for tracking daily disease progression from home.

The kit was carefully assembled to provide the necessary tools for adequate assessment of a patient’s ability to get up from a chair and walk a length of 10 feet. This task, known as the Timed up and Go, is the standard of care test determined to be the most comprehensive analysis of patient’s balance in a home environment. Fine motor skills will be tracked through a periodic finger tapping test. The kit elements are designed to be compatible with the eventual deterioration of sight and fine motor skills that patients with Parkinson’s disease experience.

To determine what tools to provide in the kit, we conducted a needs assessment based on the literature. The researchers worked through subsequent iterative design changes using six of Zhang’s guidelines for heuristic analysis. We looked at ‘Visibility’ and ‘Consistency’ to ensure that all provided materials and instructions were both clear and easily accessible, this meant deigning the kit layout and packaging for an elderly user including instructions that were easily found among the materials. We considered ‘Minimalism’ to further kit simplicity while simultaneously looking at the ‘Flexibility’ of the materials in terms of the increasingly unique environments each patient would be working in. Finally, we used Zhang’s principles of ‘Match’ and ‘Memory’ to make our kit additionally compatible with unique environments, further building on our consideration of ‘Flexibility’, ensuring that the directions provided would be clear and simple regardless of varying amenities available to each patient.

Our final kit included a 3rd generation iPod Touch, to be used for recording the daily 10-foot walk and for completing the tapping test through a pre-loaded mobile application that can be easily opened and operated through the iPod Touch. A tripod was provided to secure the iPod camera and two rolls of tape were included to be rolled out to their full length of 10 feet for a standardized walking distance. The kit also included a pamphlet detailing how to effectively use each component, suggestions for how and where to construct an environment for appropriate recording, and directions for eventually sending the used kit with all necessary logs back to the physician. Kit components are arranged in a cardboard box with a carved-out foam interior, maintaining ready visibility and accessibility.

Once COVID-19 cases are better controlled, we plan to send out our kits to assess usability and iteratively update our components to resolve any perceived usability issues by target users. Once the kit has been tested on a sample of patients, further iterative design changes using a similar set of design elements will be implemented. The researchers will next focus on the user needs of the healthcare providers during the process of receiving the information from the patients and the implementation into care delivery.