“Engineers see technical possibilities, create a product and give that to people. But, what if ‘the people’ don’t care about the technical possibilities? It can create a mismatch between developers and the users,” explains Sergi Rotger Griful.
He is one of the Eriksholm Research Centre researchers behind a new publication based on the project ‘(App)etite for life with hearing loss’. A project laying the groundwork for future eHealth solutions based on the real needs of hearing aid users, their relatives, and the hearing care professionals.
“This publication can motivate developers to think twice about the people the solutions are for. It can create awareness,” says Sergi Rotger Griful.
The paper is published in American Journal of Audiology and can be found here: ‘User-Innovated eHealth Solutions for Service Delivery to Older Persons With Hearing Impairment’
Hearing aid users, relatives, and audiologists got creative
The study is a collaboration between Eriksholm Research Centre and Aalborg University. The researchers brainstormed eHealth solutions with three focus groups: a group of hearing aid users, a group of relatives, and a group of hearing care professionals. The aim was to find out what the needs and expectations to eHealth solutions are.
“We had some ideas, but the full process was built around this participatory design, where we set the scene and created an environment for people to get creative,” explains Sergi Rotger Griful.
Throughout three sessions, focus group participants and researchers created a visual overview of the future client journey, discussed expectations and needs using a paper mock-app, and in the end, they interacted with a digital mock-app.
Information right when you need it
The new publication presents different insights that the researchers got from their interaction with the participants.
“One of the insights were that people need reliable information about hearing loss in their everyday life. They often don’t have enough time with the audiologists, and they are not able to remember all the information after a visit at the audiologist,” says Sergi Rotger Griful and continues:
“They want to be able to access the information when they need it. eHealth solutions should be a tool to support the audiologist.”
Other insights were:
• The hearing aid users need a ‘playground’ to learn how to use their hearing aids.
• The hearing aid users want a ‘personal coach’. It could be an audiologist or an experienced hearing aid user.
• The hearing aid users want to be able to compare themselves with others and with themselves over time.
According to Sergi Rotger Griful, getting these conclusions directly from the people using or working with the hearings aids is valuable:
“The learnings from this study can be very useful in choosing topics for future eHealth solutions,” he says.
One size does not fit all
All of these concepts can be part of an app, but when developing it, it is important to remember one very important conclusion: One size does not fit everyone.
“There will be more tech-savvy people who like to do things themselves and play with the set-up, while others want to lean on the audiologist. You need to consider both types of hearing aid users when you create these solutions,” says Sergi Rotger Griful.
Read more news from Eriksholm Research Centre here.