It’s no secret that people appreciate and use digital health tools.
A recent industry report finds that 87% of Americans used at least one digital health tool in 2017. (An upward trend from 80% two years earlier.) Digital health tools are being used globally as well. They can reach people in remote areas. They are also part of strategies to impact non-communicable disease prevention and control.
As a literacy researcher and educator in health literacy, I’m especially attuned to issues of communication and health literacy in digital health tools. And I’ve encountered plenty of these issues while helping clients and reading across research.
Here are 4 lessons I hope might be helpful to you, if you use, design, or purchase digital health tools of any kind. They’re in audio format here (as podcasts). You can listen to the episodes right on this page, or click on the links to listen, read the transcript, download, and subscribe.
Lesson #1: how to get around one sneaky communication roadblock in digital health and IT.
What it’s about: Clear communication in and through digital health tools is complex in its own right. Confusion can happen unintentionally, at several points in and beyond the design process.
Especially helpful if: you are someone who develops or purchases digital health tools; if you are a frequent user of digital health tools.
Lesson #2: three things you can do about the health literacy qualities of any apps you’re recommending–or designing.
What it’s about: health literacy concerns, when it comes to apps specifically for chronic disease management and prevention.
Especially helpful if: you are someone who works with chronic disease patients or clients (or you prepare or supervise those who do); you are someone who develops or purchases digital health tools
Lesson #3: two ways digital health tools can leave patients behind, and how you can be proactive about the digital health tools used in your organization.
What it’s about: as much as we know about good health information, and good user design, too many digital health tools have yet to meet standards.
Especially helpful if: you have created (or want to create) a digital health tool; you are someone who develops or purchases digital health tools; you are in a position to influence what tools are used in your organization
Lesson #4: how costly it can be to overlook assumptions, and how to be strategic and thoughtful about the assumptions in your project
What it’s about: It’s easy to think about technology and machines as objective, neutral, value-free. Yet tech is designed and built by humans with our far-from-objective world views, assumptions, and blind spots. When these blind spots make it into the tech, there’s plenty of room for things to go wrong.
Especially helpful if: you use or develop digital health tools; you are someone who breathes.
If you’re ready to improve communication in your digital health tools, just fill out the form below.
I have the resources available to help you create or modify your health information content with health literacy of all users in mind. It’s a framework that lets you meet or exceed recommendations from federal agencies, so you know you’re producing digital health tools that engage all patients.