According to Clemson University, Doxy.me rates high for Telemedicine Usability and is the easiest telemedicine tool for patients. At-home telemedicine visits are quickly becoming an acceptable alternative for in-person patient visits. However, little work has been done to understand the usability of these home-based telemedicine solutions. It is critical for user acceptance and real-world applicability to evaluate available telemedicine solutions within the context-specific needs of the users of this technology. To address this need, this study evaluated the usability of four home-based telemedicine software platforms: Doxy.me, Vidyo, VSee, and Polycom. Read their manuscript in Applied Ergonomics.
What prompted you to conducted this study? Home based telemedicine care is quickly becoming an acceptable alternative for in-person visits. It has the potential to transcend geographical barriers. The most important advantages of these technologies are reduced cost and travel time. However, technological glitches and lack of technological literacy sometimes prevent users from adopting these systems. Only limited research has been conducted in evaluating the usability of such tools from a home-based video telemedicine system perspective. In order to foster user acceptance, users need to have a positive attitude towards these systems.
Why is usability important?
A key factor that influences user acceptance is the usability of the telemedicine system. It is critical, for real-world applicability to situate telemedicine applications within the context-specific needs of the people benefiting from or otherwise affected by them. This research tried to address this gap in the literature by evaluating usability issues associated with 4 commonly used telemedicine platforms.
What were the research methods used? We adopted a lab scale usability evaluation method. We followed a within subject study design with each participant being exposed to all four telemedicine platforms. A script was developed in consultation with healthcare providers. The researcher who role-played the doctor asked the participants to perform a number of representative tasks. Another researcher observed the performance of the participants and kept track of the number of errors committed. In addition, participants filled an entry and exit survey. Usability of the system and workload measures were measured using IBM computer system usability questionnaire and NASA TLX tool respectively. This study was approved by Clemson University's Institutional Review Board.
What were the telemedicine systems evaluated? Why? We evaluated four commonly used telemedicine platforms: Doxy.me, Vidyo, VSee and Polycom. The criteria for a telemedicine system to be included for this usability study were as follows: (1) the system was primarily used to deliver video-based telemedicine at home; (2) the system could be used at home without any specialized or proprietary equipment; (3) the system could run on an Internet-connected computer with audio and video capabilities; (4) the system was HIPAA compliant. We reviewed systems used by Medical University of South Carolina and South Carolina Telehealth Alliance. Seven software (Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx, Doxy.me, Polycom, Skype, Vidyo and VSee) were identified as potential candidates from the preliminary review. We gathered feedback from healthcare providers in this matter. Despite being used in delivering telemedicine care, Adobe Connect, Skype and Cisco WebEx did not satisfy the first criteria. This left us with Doxy.me, Vidyo, VSee and Polycom.
How did Doxy.me compare to the other telemedicine platforms? Doxy.me, like other platforms initiates the telemedicine session through an email sent by the doctor. However, it does not involve registration and installation of software. In addition, the invitation email contains one link and checking in process involves entering only the patient’s name. This made the check-in process easier. Also, maneuvering through the system was easier as the icons were self-explanatory and provided feedback when toggled. However, there are certain aspects that can be changed in order to improve the interface quality and in turns the usability of this system. For example, sharing audio and video devices were a real hurdle for some of the participants. The instructions provided by the system to share devices were not consistent with the actual process involved in sharing the devices. This could be revisited to make sharing of devices a much easier task.
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