Patients don’t use the same language to describe commonly used technology as healthcare staff, even if they are regular users of that technology.
This is one of the findings Ko Awatea has made after an exploration into patient use of health technology, being undertaken on behalf of Counties Manukau Health’s System Wide Integration for Transformation (SWIFT).
SWIFT is designed to improve the health of communities through more effective patient engagement, particularly through the use of technology.
Ko Awatea’s role was to help SWIFT better understand patients’ perception of technology, including their use of apps, patient portals and self-help information.
The team found patients are frequently engaging with technology, and willing to use it to manage their health, but many do not use the same language as their health workers, creating confusion and highlighting a need for health professionals to cut down on jargon.
The data was gathered from six focus groups of Counties Manukau Health patients with a known respiratory disease, held in August this year. Groups were conducted in GP practices, community venues and outpatient clinics. There were between three and thirteen participants in each group ranging from 22 to 79 years of age. Participants included a wide representation of the communities that Counties Manukau Health serve.
Among the findings, Ko Awatea noted that although 95 per cent of participants had a smart phone device, only half of these understood its functionality or understood their device to be a “smart phone”.
All of the participants stated they preferred face-to-face contact with their GP over self-management support websites, although all were interested in how technology might enhance their health and care.
There was a consensus among groups that they would consider the use of technologies if they were provided but they would expect the GP practice or health care organisation to take the lead in providing access and helping them to use the technologies.
All participants were concerned about the costs of accessing technology, with some Pacific women describing providing blankets and food to their family as more important than spending money on healthcare.
Ko Awatea director of innovation Dr Lynne Maher says the findings show that “by engaging and communicating with consumers in a way that is relevant to them we can learn a massive amount about how we can best provide health and care services that consumers will utilise in the most effective way.”