Pharaon: Interview with AdSysCo

End of last year, I was interviewed by Dirk Winkels, Manager Marketing, Communication & Sales at AdSysCo to talk about the Pharaon project. Below is the translated and slightly adapted version of this interview. 

In early 2020, at the initiative of the European Commission, the Pharaon project started. Pharaon aimed to explore the extent to which digital technologies can support the lives of older people. In Pharaon, AdSysCo participates with the RegiCare customer portal. A higher quality of life with digital discoveries, that’s what it’s all about. 

The Pharaon project will be completed at the end of 2024. So it’s too early for final conclusions, but there are already some preliminary. This is evident from a conversation we had with Dr. Christiane Grünloh, senior researcher at RRD and responsible for the smooth running of the six Pharaon pilots. Christiane has long been researching the adoption of technology solutions in healthcare.   

In these six pilots in five countries, all sorts of different technologies are being tried ranging from sensors that monitor people’s safety to various forms of video calling via TV. In some care organizations, robots are being tested. In the Netherlands, the emphasis is on social contact around the outings of the PlusBussen of the National Fund for the Elderly. The RegiCare customer portal supports these social activities with digital contact.   

Just after Pharaon started, the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. “This risk was not foreseen in any project plan,” said Christiane, “Due to the new measures, our target group (older adults who may be vulnerable) was almost immediately inaccessible to researchers in all countries, at least physically, while the research requires a lot of interaction with the target group.” Delay was not an option for the EU, after all, everyone had committed to the program. Besides, Pharaon is all about information and communication technology, so researchers and designers are also creative to explore other ways to interact with people.  

The kick-off meeting was still held in-person in Pisa, but after that Pharaon played out behind (boring) computer screens for two years. Due to the pandemic, the recruitment of older adults for the study got off to a slow start. All in all, the Pharaon study has to make do with a limited number of participants, and this applies to all pilots. For quantitative research, this presents a challenge, so more effort has also been put into qualitative research such as interviews. “Of course it is not great to have fewer participants than promised in the research proposal. But there is also an opportunity to go more into depth. Why do people participate or not? What challenges do they run into in their daily lives when they have to start using technology. These insights are super important,” Christiane says. 

Development for and with users 

People in healthcare and welfare also had a high workload during the pandemic and hardly any additional capacities available. In addition to the pandemic, doubts against the use of technologies also played a role in many places. “I don’t know it”, “it doesn’t work”, “I don’t get it” and “what’s in it for me?”. In Pharaon, we came across all kinds of arguments to not use a solution, and they were all justified.  

Technology can improve care and also make it more efficient and cheaper, Christiane knows, but it has to be developed for and with the users to take their needs into account, and that’s often the crux of the matter. “I don’t know it”, “it doesn’t work”, “I don’t get it” and “what’s in it for me?” is well known. Close end-user involvement in the design and step-by-step building and testing of a digital solution for care and well-being is necessary to reduce these problems. “If we develop technology together with the target group and thereby ensure that it really connects with users’ needs and values, we can increase acceptance, stimulate use and ultimately have effect and impact,” Christiane has learned from her many research projects.   

Development of RegiCare 

AdSysCo recognizes this well. New developments in the RegiCare suite, such as the mobile applications and the customer portal, are developed for and with users. This also applies to the implementation: active involvement and ownership of users is a key success factor. Simply making a nice solution with lots of functionality available without actively involving the end-user in the how, the what and the why misses the mark. “Not the technical solution but the user experience determines success” says Christiane. “It does take more time, but do you want a cheap solution that doesn’t work or a slightly more expensive solution that does?” she says smiling.  

Once the research is complete, there will be a follow-up conversation between AdSysCo and Christiane. 

 


This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on the websites of AdSysCo and RRD.

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