Background and aims: Effective strategies are needed to address the need for scheduling support in the unique setting of a home rehabilitation service, providing home based therapy, as well as telerehabilitation. One approach is an electronic avatar-directed scheduling and memory aid in the form of an app. The aim of this study is to investigate clinician perspectives on the use of this type of technology.
Methods: In this mixed method study a total of sixteen clinicians from various disciplines based at a metropolitan hospital in Adelaide (SA, Australia) participated in 2 semi-structured focus groups aimed to explore experiences and attitudes towards scheduling support in the form of an avatar-directed app, perceptions on the usefulness of the app, as well as acceptability. Thematic analysis was undertaken on focus groups' transcripts. Self-reported technology proficiency, perceived usefulness (PU), and perceived ease of use (PEOU) were assessed quantitatively. Summary statistics were used to analyse the quantitative data and Spearman's correlation was used to explore the relationship between participant characteristics and individual and mean scores for PU and PEOU.
Results: Four themes emerged from the focus groups: effectiveness versus efficiency, patient empowerment, practicality and ease of use, and likability of the avatar. Clinicians experienced time constraints, and welcomed technology that could assist with reliable scheduling of appointments and therapy sessions. They liked the concept of the avatar and found the app interesting, novel and fun. However, although the app was reasonably easy to use, the setting up was problematic and time consuming. Clinicians did not see the app as beneficial to their patients, and felt that the technology did not add value to the delivery of care. The older, more experienced, clinicians found the app more difficult to use, but neither the level of technological competency, nor gender, was found to be associated with PU or PEOU.
Discussion: Although clinicians appreciated the concept of an avatar-directed scheduling and memory app, they did not see it as a useful tool in the provision of scheduling assistance in this particular setting providing short-term rehabilitation services. Clinicians felt time-poor and emphasized the importance of a time-efficient solution. Perceived lack of usefulness in this context and poor likeability of the avatar highlight the need for clinician involvement in the design process before an app can be successfully implemented in a clinical setting.