User-centered design (UCD) methodologies can help take the needs and requirements of potential end-users into account during the development of innovative telecare products and services. Understanding how members of multidisciplinary development teams experience the UCD process might help to gain insight into factors that members with different backgrounds consider critical during the development of telecare products and services.
The primary objective of this study was to explore how members of multidisciplinary development teams experienced the UCD process of telecare products and services. The secondary objective was to identify differences and similarities in the barriers and facilitators they experienced.
Twenty-five members of multidisciplinary development teams of four Research and Development (R&D) projects participated in this study. The R&D projects aimed to develop telecare products and services that can support self-management in elderly people or patients with chronic conditions. Seven participants were representatives of end-users (elderly persons or patients with chronic conditions), three were professional end-users (geriatrician and nurses), five were engineers, four were managers (of R&D companies or engineering teams), and six were researchers. All participants were interviewed by a researcher who was not part of their own development team. The following topics were discussed during the interviews: (1) aim of the project, (2) role of the participant, (3) experiences during the development process, (4) points of improvement, and (5) what the project meant to the participant.
Experiences of participants related to the following themes: (1) creating a development team, (2) expectations regarding responsibilities and roles, (3) translating user requirements into technical requirements, (4) technical challenges, (5) evaluation of developed products and services, and (6) valorization. Multidisciplinary team members from different backgrounds often reported similar experienced barriers (eg, different members of the development team speak a “different language”) and facilitators (eg, team members should voice expectations at the start of the project to prevent miscommunication at a later stage). However, some experienced barriers and facilitators were reported only by certain groups of participants. For example, only managers reported the experience that having different ideas about what a good business case is within one development team was a barrier, whereas only end-users emphasized the facilitating role of project management in end-user participation and the importance of continuous feedback from researchers on input of end-users.
Many similarities seem to exist between the experienced barriers and facilitators of members of multidisciplinary development teams during UCD of telecare products and services. However, differences in experiences between team members from various backgrounds exist as well. Insights into these similarities and differences can improve understanding between team members from different backgrounds, which can optimize collaboration during the development of telecare products and services.