If we want the healthcare industry to adopt digital biomarker technologies, why aren’t people talking about user-friendliness? In this article, discover why user-friendly technology experiences aren’t optional. They are the best path forward.
User-friendliness: The forgotten hurdle
The digital biomarker discussion centres around data quality. Key questions include “how do we improve the qualification and validation of digital measurements?” and “how do we increase traceability to clarify how measurements turn into medical conclusions?” But there is one question about the future of digital biomarkers and digital measurements that isn’t talked about enough: how will we turn digital biomarkers into a natural part of our daily workflow?
We expect digital biomarkers to be collected during the everyday life of the patient. The measurements should also be collected in such a way that healthcare professionals can easily act on and collaborate with the data. But this future can’t exist without user-friendly technology experiences. Going forward, digital biomarker measurements must be made simple for the patient, if not entirely effortless. And to provide user-friendly experiences for care providers, they can’t be overloaded with information at every phase of the patient’s journey.
Key challenge: User-friendly for all stakeholders
When people think about user-friendliness, they might first think about simplification. But in a work environment, simplification can counterintuitively lead to more complexity. In the healthcare industry, this is especially true. There are many stakeholders that engage with the patient, and reducing complexity in one role might just complicate another.
But of course, less complexity isn’t more user-friendly. Excessive data can complicate decisions or place responsibility on the patient. The conclusion is that user-friendliness for digital biomarkers is independent from the amount of data or the number of measurements being made. So how can we ensure user-friendly digital biomarker experiences for all stakeholders?
How to achieve user-friendliness
With a holistic view of the patient journey – beyond the scope of the patient entering or exiting the hospital doors – we see a user-friendly future of digital biomarkers. The holistic perspective opens the door to new kinds of questions unlikely in the pure hospital setting. What type of biomarkers can we use? Can stakeholders outside the primary care team be responsible for the data? How much data is really needed and how rigorous does the data validation need to be?
For instance, many hospitals work with external care teams. In certain contexts, stakeholders might decide that they alone should hold responsibility for digital biomarker collaboration. Another example: outside the hospital, it may be possible to adjust data validity processes depending on the specific phase of the patient’s journey. After all, digital biomarkers can play a role during proactive care, when the person is a “non-patient”.
The user-friendly digital biomarker experience
Acceptance of digital biomarkers is already growing. Many of us already use biomarkers to keep us fit, healthy and aware. But two things that would increase their acceptance even more. The first is making the biomarkers “passive” or invisible – through discreet, user-friendly experiences in daily life. Secondly, if healthcare professionals could accept historically measured data as part of their assessment. And this is where holistic, user-friendly data protocols come in – perhaps powered by smart data sharing capability to securely transform “casual” digital biomarkers into patient data.
A world filled with user-friendly, accessible digital biomarkers is a world that supports the health of people, not patients. After all, we are people first and foremost. We just sometimes have the misfortune of also being a patient. Digital biomarkers can give people more agency over their own health outside the hospital. And with user-friendly digital biomarkers, this power can become a reality for everyone.
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