With our aging population, the number of people with at least one chronic condition requiring medication is increasing. At the same time, touchscreen device ownership is growing exponentially and with it, many mHealth apps are coming onto the market with the purpose of aiding with health management. On the one hand, medication management apps are available to assist those taking medications, however, they may not be targeted towards older adults who are the most likely population to be taking medications.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the usability and utility of existing medication management apps in adults 50 and older.
Summary of findings
Participants were recruited through posting flyers in local clinics and attending events at community centres targeted towards older adults. Participants were invited to attend a 2 hour focus group at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.
Results showed that participants struggled the most with an application that was difficult to use due to poorly designed navigation. When asked about utility, the majority felt that there was no need in their current lives as they already had a working medication management system or their memory had not declined enough to rely on an application. When asked to put a dollar value on the applications, drug information applications were valued at a higher cost. Many first-time iPad users were surprised by the ease of use of the device and were willing to continue to use the app until they were comfortable with it, given that they saw a benefit or were recommended the app by someone. Participants attributed their poor performance to their own lack of experience and their specific generation rather than the fault of application design. Additionally, many desired free training.