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In JMIR formative research

BACKGROUND : With an aging population and the escalating cost of care, telemedicine has become a societal imperative. Telemedicine alternatives are especially relevant to patients seeking care for sleep apnea, with its prevalence approaching one billion cases worldwide. Increasing awareness has led to a surge in demand for sleep apnea care; however, there is a shortage of the resources and expertise necessary to cater to the rising demand.

OBJECTIVE : The aim of this study is to design, develop, and evaluate a telemedicine platform, called Ognomy, for the consultation, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with sleep apnea.

METHODS : Using the design science research methodology, we developed a telemedicine platform for patients with sleep apnea. To explore the problem, in the analysis phase, we conducted two brainstorming workshops and structured interviews with 6 subject matter experts to gather requirements. Following that, we conducted three design and architectural review sessions to define and evaluate the system architecture. Subsequently, we conducted 14 formative usability assessments to improve the user interface of the system. In addition, 3 trained test engineers performed end-to-end system testing to comprehensively evaluate the platform.

RESULTS : Patient registration and data collection, physician appointments, video consultation, and patient progress tracking have emerged as critical functional requirements. A telemedicine platform comprising four artifacts-a mobile app for patients, a web app for providers, a dashboard for reporting, and an artificial intelligence-based chatbot for customer onboarding and support-was developed to meet these requirements. Design reviews emphasized the need for a highly cohesive but loosely coupled interaction among the platform's components, which was achieved through a layered modular architecture using third-party application programming interfaces. In contrast, critical findings from formative usability assessments focused on the need for a more straightforward onboarding process for patients, better status indicators during patient registration, and reorganization of the appointment calendar. Feedback from the design reviews and usability assessments was translated into technical improvements and design enhancements that were implemented in subsequent iterations.

CONCLUSIONS : Sleep apnea is an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition. However, with increasing awareness, the demand for quality sleep apnea care is likely to surge, and creative alternatives are needed. The results of this study demonstrate the successful application of a framework using a design science research paradigm to design, develop, and evaluate a telemedicine platform for patients with sleep apnea and their providers.

Mulgund Pavankumar, Sharman Raj, Rifkin Daniel, Marrazzo Sam

2021-Jul-19

design science research, mHealth, mobile health, mobile phone, sleep apnea, sleep apnea care, telemedicine, telemedicine platform, web application