Domain 4: Responding to complexity in the intended adopters of the technology
This project is only going to work if the people you want to use the technology are able and willing to do so.
Address acceptability, accessibility and usability for patients and citizens. If the technology requires input from a patient, carer or other lay person, will they find the product aesthetically pleasing and easy to use? Does the technology make sense, for example, in the context of how patients and carers already do things, their routines and existing tools they use to support their work? Remember, everyone is different. Some people have limited vision or dexterity; some people find instructions hard to understand. Can you make the product more accessible? Is it worth building design changes in now or planning to do so in the future (e.g. after proof of concept testing)? If the technology includes several components, can users select what is most relevant for them? These resources may help:
- How to do research on user needs in the ‘discovery phase’ of technology design – a website from the UK government.
- International Design Foundation – a US site offering tips and resources for making websites and apps more accessible.
- How to design websites for older people – a guide from the Alzheimers Society.
Address staff motivation and concerns. Assess the level of enthusiasm for the technology from different staff groups, and also how motivated teams are to take on the new technology. Have any of them had experience of using this technology elsewhere? Listen to staff concerns – which may be legitimate – and to their ideas for increasing the project’s success. This resource may help:
Higher Education England Digital Capabilities Framework for assessing the digital capability of staff.
Modify staff roles and provide training. Develop new roles and job descriptions where needed, perhaps by adapting ones already in use elsewhere. Set learning objectives (some of which will be about building confidence to make judgements, not about mechanically following protocol). Design and develop training courses. Remember: using a technology usually needs on-the-job and team-based training, not just sitting in classrooms. Allocate sufficient budget for this work, and consider issues such as backfill.
Promote social learning. One way to become confident in using a technology is to shadow someone in the same role who is already an enthusiast for it (‘champion’) and confident in using it (‘super user’). Learning in this way not only develops skills but also helps people develop a positive attitude and identity.
Support collective sensemaking and communities of practice. People need to make sense of new technologies – sometimes by coming together to complain about them initially! Surfacing one’s irritation with a technology may be the first step to coming to terms with it. Both staff and patients may benefit from being in ‘communities of practice’ (groups or networks of people who share an interest in something and are trying to get better at it). Online communities of patients, for example, are often good sources of knowledge and wisdom about how to manage a condition. Try to get these communities on board if introducing a patient-facing technology.
The Kings Fund guide to engaging NHS staff may provide some practical ways of achieving the above.