Developing eHealth tools for diverse older adults: Lessons learned from the PREPARE for Your Care Program
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021 Oct;69(10):2939-2949. doi: 10.1111/jgs.17284. Epub 2021 Jun 3.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Electronic Health (eHealth) tools offer opportunities for people to access health information online; yet, most tools are not designed to meet the unique needs of diverse older adults, leading to health disparities. Our goal was to provide guidance for the development of eHealth tools for diverse older populations for use in geriatric care models.
DESIGN: Guidance for eHealth tools was compiled from user design resources and eHealth design literature. Pragmatic examples were provided from an evidenced-based eHealth tool called PREPAREforYourCare.org (PREPARE). We used quantitative feasibility data from PREPARE research studies and qualitative analysis of PREPARE focus groups, cognitive interviews, and feedback from randomized trials to further inform our recommendations.
RESULTS: Guidance and lessons learned include: (1) define clear objectives and a conceptual framework; (2) co-create with the target population; (3) optimize the design and layout for accessibility and ease of use, such as text at the 5th grade reading level, closed captioning, etc.; (4) use simple, standardized navigation design; (5) use actionable information to enhance behavior change, such as modeling of behaviors; (6) align accompanying written materials with the eHealth tool; and (7) create tracking mechanisms for ongoing user feedback. PREPARE is used as a case example to provide pragmatic illustrations for how the guidance may be operationalized.
CONCLUSION: eHealth tools can be tailored to the unique characteristics, preferences, and needs of diverse older populations. Following the "lessons learned" may help decrease health disparities among diverse older adults and ensure eHealth tools are readily accessible and culturally appropriate.