Efficacy of Digital Health Tools for a Pediatric Patient Registry: Semistructured Interviews and Interface Usability Testing with Parents and Clinicians

Sarah Doyle, Rebecca Pavlos, Samantha J. Carlson, Katherine Barton, Mejbah Bhuiyan, Bernadett Boeing, Meredith L. Borland, Steven Hoober, Christopher C. Blyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Acute respiratory infection (ARI) in childhood is common, but more knowledge on the burden and natural history of ARI in the community is required. A better understanding of ARI risk factors, treatment, and outcomes will help support parents to manage their sick child at home. Digital health tools are becoming more widely adopted in clinical care and research and may assist in understanding and managing common pediatric diseases, including ARI, in hospitals and in the community. We integrated 2 digital tools—a web-based discharge communication system and the REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) platform—into the Pragmatic Adaptive Trial for Acute Respiratory Infection in Children to enhance parent and physician engagement around ARI discharge communication and our patient registry. Objective: The objective of this study is to determine the efficacy and usability of digital tools integrated into a pediatric patient registry for ARI. Methods: Semistructured interviews and software interface usability testing were conducted with 11 parents and 8 emergency department physicians working at a tertiary pediatric hospital and research center in Perth, Western Australia, in 2019. Questions focused on experiences of discharge communication and clinical trial engagement. Responses were analyzed using the qualitative Framework Method. Participants were directly observed using digital interfaces as they attempted predetermined tasks that were then classified as success, failure, software failure, or not observed. Participants rated the interfaces using the System Usability Scale (SUS). Results: Most parents (9/11, 82%) indicated that they usually received verbal discharge advice, with some (5/11, 45%) recalling receiving preprinted resources from their physician. Most (8/11, 73%) would also like to receive discharge advice electronically. Most of the physicians (7/8, 88%) described their usual practice as verbal discharge instructions, with some (3/8, 38%) reporting time pressures associated with providing discharge instructions. The digital technology option was preferred for engaging in research by most parents (8/11, 73%). For the discharge communication digital tool, parents gave a mean SUS score of 94/100 (SD 4.3; A grade) for the mobile interface and physicians gave a mean usability score of 93/100 (SD 4.7; A grade) for the desktop interface. For the research data management tool (REDCap), parents gave a mean usability score of 78/100 (SD 11.0; C grade) for the mobile interface. Conclusions: Semistructured interviews allowed us to better understand parent and physician experiences of discharge communication and clinical research engagement. Software interface usability testing methods and use of the SUS helped us gauge the efficacy of our digital tools with both parent and physician users. This study demonstrates the feasibility of combining qualitative research methods with software industry interface usability testing methods to help determine the efficacy of digital tools in a pediatric clinical research setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29889
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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