In this weeks presentation in the MedX course “Patient Engagement Design” Dennis Boyle from IDEO gave a brief presentation on designing tips for patient engagement. Unfortunately, the video clip does not appear to be available outside of the course shell – so I cannot link to it directly in this post. You can see the video by signing up for the course (linked above).
First, I want to highlight that in the video example of the development of the Automated External Defibrillator they did a series of iterative user tests. They built something, tried it out, and watched as people used it. They collected that information and re-designed based upon user experience. They did this multiple times before they had a successful project. An important part of design is iteration.
The second part I wanted to mention is surrounding the discussion of ‘making it social’. Boyle talks about the importance of having a social aspect to the design. This goes back to my earlier comments about the need for theories based upon social-constructivist learning rather than behaviourist learning (last weeks post).
What isn’t mentioned is the gendered motivations behind the examples he gave. He gave two examples of making it social – one that was competition based and the other that was community based. In the competition based example, he was drawing on a more male approach to motivation (competition). Note that I’m not saying only men like competition, just that if your primary audience is male, then a competition-based motivator may be more appealing than if your audience is primarily female. In my household this plays out in our choice of cycle tracking apps. I use an app that allows me to track my personal achievements and post them to my social networks. I’m not competing with anyone but myself – and it is personal achievement that motivates me. My husband uses a social app that compares each segment of his commute with others that are riding that segment. He gets ranked for each segment of his ride based upon other people who have ridden that segment. He is motivate to get a higher ranking – so motivated to ride faster to get a higher rank – that doesn’t interest me at all!
In the second example of being social he showed a desire for people to connect with one another on a shared journey. This appeals more to women – it is a female approach to motivation. If you looked at the examples, all the people he showed were women.
When designing an app to support patient engagement, I think it is important to understand your audience and what motivates them. Appreciating that there are differences among gender lines – and if your primary audience is female, then you need to design your ‘social’ aspect along female gender lines (belonging, community) versus when your audience is primarily male (competition).
From a healthcare perspective I hypothesize that there is also a difference between preventative and critical illness. In the prevention the gender role will play a larger role in successful implementation. In the critical illness role, I believe that competition is less imperative, and that community is more important. But that is my opinion … what do you think?