A Prospective Study of Usability and Workload of Electronic Medication Adherence Products by Older Adults, Caregivers, and Health Care Providers Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background A decreased capacity to self-manage medications results in nonadherence, medication errors, and drug-related problems in older adults. Previous research identified 80 electronic medication adherence products available to assist patients with self-management of medications. Unfortunately, the usability and workload of these products are unknown. Objective This study aimed to examine the usability and workload of a sample of electronic medication adherence products. Methods In a prospective, mixed methods study, a sample of older adults, health care professionals, and caregivers tested the usability and workload of 21 electronic medication adherence products. Each participant tested 5 products, one at a time, after which they completed the system usability scale (SUS) and NASA-task load index (NASA-TLX), instruments that measure the usability and workload involved in using a product. Higher SUS scores indicate more user-friendliness, whereas lower NASA-TLX raw scores indicate less workload when using a product. Results Electronic medication adherence products required a mean of 12.7 steps (range 5-20) for the appropriate use and took, on average, 15.19 min to complete the setup tasks (range 1-56). Participants were able to complete all steps without assistance 55.3% of the time (103 out of the 186 tests were completed by 39 participants; range 0%-100%). The mean SUS and NASA-TLX raw scores were 52.8 (SD 28.7; range 0-100) and 50.0 (SD 25.7; range 4.2-99.2), respectively, revealing significant variability among the electronic medication adherence products. The most user-friendly products were found to be TimerCap travel size (mean 78.67, SD 15.57; P=.03) and eNNOVEA Weekly Planner with Advanced Auto Reminder (mean 78.13, SD 14.13; P=.049) as compared with MedReady 1700 automated medication dispenser (mean 28.63, SD 21.24). Similarly, MedReady (72.92, SD 18.69) was found to be significantly more work intensive when compared with TimerCap (29.35, SD 20.35; P=.03), e-pill MedGlider home medication management system (28.43, SD 20.80; P=.02), and eNNOVEA (28.65, SD 14.97; P=.03). The e-pill MedTime Station automatic pill dispenser with tipper (71.77, SD 21.98) had significantly more workload than TimerCap (P=.04), MedGlider (P=.03), and eNNOVEA (P=.04). Conclusions This study demonstrated that variability exists in the usability and workload of different electronic medication adherence products among older adults, caregivers, and clinicians. With few studies having investigated the usability and workload of electronic medication adherence products, no benchmarks exist to compare the usability and workload of these products. However, our study highlights the need to assess the usability and workload of different products marketed to assist with medication taking and provides guidance to clinicians regarding electronic medication adherence product recommendations for their patients. Future development of electronic medication adherence products should ensure that the target populations of patients are able to use these products adequately to improve medication management.


  • Patel, Tejal
  • Ivo, Jessica
  • Faisal, Sadaf
  • McDougall, Aidan
  • Carducci, Jillian
  • Pritchard, Sarah
  • Chang, Feng

publication date

  • June 2, 2020