Using Simulation to Conduct a Usability Study of Wearable Technology
Background: This study had two purposes. First, to assess the usability and perceived ease of use (PEU) of a head-mounted display (HMD) in the health care environment. Second, to assess whether the use of a remote teleconsultant intensivist via a HMD improves the management of a simulated cardiac arrest. The use of technology, specifically HMDs (such as Google Glass(TM)), is becoming more popular, especially in health care. However, the efficacy, usability, and PEU have not been studied to any great extent. Assessing new technology is an important step when considering potential implementation in a patient care setting. Using simulation to assess the usability and the PEU is one method that can provide insight into the viability of new technology. Methods: Nine teams of internal medicine residents (31 individuals) participated in this study conducted in a simulation center with a high-technology patient simulator. Resident teams were randomized to the availability of a remote intensivist via teleconsultation using a HMD. The residents were asked to provide care to a patient and had the opportunity to activate the HMD for assistance. Results: The main outcome measure was the PEU and usefulness of the HMD during a cardiac arrest. Although the PEU and perceived usefulness of the HMD were not different between the teams, the team leaders, who used the HMD during the scenario, scored the device as more useful than other team members. The second outcome of proper management of a critical patient was not improved with the use of a HMD. Conclusions: Real-time video communication via a HMD was seen as potentially useful by the team leaders, but not by team members. In addition, the use of a HMD for communication did not improve the management of a simulated patient. New technologies, including wearable, HMDs may have their role in health care, but must first be tested for efficacy, ease of use, and perceived usefulness in realistic simulated patient environments. Introducing new technology in a simulated environment may aide in their adoption in clinical environments or prevent dangerous and costly missteps.
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