Participatory design methods for the development of a clinical telehealth service for neonatal homecare

Kristina Garne Holm, Anne Brødsgaard, Gitte Zachariassen, Anthony C Smith, Jane Clemensen

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OBJECTIVES: Neonatal homecare delivered during home visits by neonatal nurses is a common method for supporting families of preterm infants following discharge. Telehealth has been introduced for the provision of neonatal homecare, resulting in positive feedback from parents of preterm infants. While the benefits are beginning to be realised, widespread uptake of telehealth has been limited due to a range of logistical challenges. Understanding user requirements is important when planning and developing a clinical telehealth service. We therefore used participatory design to develop a clinical telehealth service for neonatal homecare.

METHODS: The study adopted a participatory design approach to engage users in the development and design of a new telehealth service. Participatory design embraces qualitative research methods. Creative and technical workshops were conducted as part of the study. Tests of the telehealth service were conducted in the neonatal unit. Participants in this study were former and current parents of preterm infants eligible for neonatal homecare, and clinical staff (medical and nursing) from the neonatal unit. Preterm infants accompanied their parents.

RESULTS: Based on the results obtained during the workshops and subsequent testing, we developed an application (app), which was integrated into the medical record at the neonatal unit. The app was used to initiate videoconferences and chat messages between the family at home and the neonatal unit, and to share information regarding infant growth and well-being.

CONCLUSION: Results obtained from the workshops and testing demonstrated the importance of involving users when developing new telehealth applications. The workshops helped identify the challenges associated with delivery of the service, and helped instruct the design of a new telehealth service for neonatal homecare based on the needs of parents and clinical staff.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2050312117731252
JournalSage Open Medicine
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article


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