Article Abstract

Explore patient-specific needs for mHealth solutions in Taiwan: a mixed study

Authors: Shu-Tien Huang, Hung-Yu Chuang, Wen-Han Chang, Ming-Yuan Huang


Background: Significant advances have been made over the past 2 decades in the use of mobile devices. So-called smart devices (e.g., smartphones, tablet computers) allow people greater access to information on the Internet and at any time. Furthermore, most smart devices now incorporate sensors such as accelerometers, global positioning satellite components, Bluetooth technology, and cameras, which have greatly impacted their scope and utilization as a result of their multi-functional capacity. In the past, mobile medical platforms or applications were considered tools that care providers could use to improve patient care. However, health information technology should also provide convenient assistance to individuals for their own health and wellness management, enabling them to better communicate with doctors, learn and share information about their own health, and take actions that will improve their quality of life. The aims of this quantitative and qualitative study are as follows: to explore the functionality patients want, and to better understand individuals’ opinions, behaviors, and motivations, as well as the barriers to utilizing mobile mHealth applications.
Methods: We conducted a quantitative and qualitative semi-structured in-depth interview study on October 13, 15 and 16, 2017, with 220 patients from a medical center in Taipei. Ten of the 220 patients were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a directed content analysis. We report our findings following the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) checklist.
Results: The top three functions requested by patients were as follows: outpatient department real-time progress (58%); the adverse effects of medicine (49%); and personal prescription lists and records (48%). Together, 83.2% patients were willing to use a hospital application if it offered the functionality they required, and 75% indicated they would do so for their family. The five major themes related to the influence of eHealth technology, as indicated by respondents, are as follows: notify patients and minimize prescription wastage; record patients’ daily medication adherence; convenient access to medication information on the mobile application; big data analyses of the data collected; and interaction between the patient and healthcare professionals, as well as with family and other patients.
Conclusions: While many mobile health applications are being developed, large hospitals are lagging in building application that resonate with patients. Patients complain of a poor user experience with hospitals, and functionality of proprietary mobile applications often fails to individuals’ needs. The technological ability of different age group varies. Thus, understanding consumers’ experiences and expectations can encourage better mobile health application design and improve patients’ motivation to use such applications.