Addressing the Personal Health Information Management Needs of Older Adults (Washington)

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Summary:

As older adults age, they are faced with changes in functioning, chronic diseases, and care transitions. As the largest consumers of health care, how they manage their health has profound consequences for health delivery, health care expenditures, and public health. With the growing emphasis on personal responsibility for health, older adults must manage a large amount of health information about their medications, appointments, preventive care needs, management of chronic conditions, and results of radiology and laboratory tests—all from a variety of sources and in diverse formats. Research indicates that few older adults use technology tools (such as personal health records) to help manage personal health information. Some of the reported barriers to using these tools are low health literacy, lack of computer skills, and physical and cognitive impairments. Designing useful and effective tools for older adults requires a deeper and more organized understanding of their personal health information management (PHIM) needs and practices.

This project will use a mixed-methods approach to research PHIM goals, activities, and practices of older adults from different demographic groups and living environments. The project will partner with senior and community centers, as well as independent and assisted living facilities in Seattle, WA to recruit older adults and those who assist them—including spouses, family, friends, and providers—with their health care management. The findings will inform a set of user-centered principles for developing PHIM technologies designed to be integrated into daily activities to help older adults maintain their health and independence.

The specific aims of the project are to:

  • Describe PHIM goals, activities, and practices of older adults in a variety of residential contexts.
  • Examine the roles, needs, and practices of key stakeholders involved in the management of older adults’ health information.
  • Develop a model of attributes of PHIM needs and practices for older adults and their key stakeholders.
  • Apply a user-centered design approach to create a set of evidence-based design guidelines for health information management tools for older adults.

This project aims to achieve the following key deliverables and outcomes: 1) a validated set of scenarios that characterize archetypical older adult users and stakeholders of PHIM; 2) a matrix of design principles for PHIM technologies; and 3) a set of vetted design concepts that illustrate how these design principles can be met. The long-term goal of this project is to improve the design and development of health information management systems that support the health and independence of older adults.

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