Usability of a communication tool used by general practitioners and public health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a proof-of-concept-study

Angelina Müller, Pascal Nohl-Deryk, Sylvia Schulz-Rothe, Phillip Elliott, Anika Thielmann, Beate Müller, Corina Guethlin, Ferdinand Gerlach

Keywords: usability; communication; COVID-19; pandemic management

With rising numbers of Covid-19 patients and patients requiring testing and quarantine, administrative burden increased and new challenges for existing communication pathways emerged. While at the beginning of the pandemic communication between local health authorities and general practitioners in Germany was heavily relying on telephone and fax machine, resources for exchange of real-time information were limited. In order to explore whether an instant messaging app could affect communication structures between local health-care players in the pandemic, we conceptualized a proof-of-concept-study testing deployment of a communication tool in two regions in Germany.
The study is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education and part of the COVID-19-national research network.

Research questions:
To identify the experiences of general practitioners and local health authorities with an app for safe instant communication.

We conducted a proof-of-concept-study comprising implementation and evaluation of an instant messenger app used by general practitioners, local health authorities and COVID-specialists in the Rhein-Main-area in Germany. Participants started to use the app in November 2020. Online questionnaires are used to assess usability. We used a pretested German translation of the mobile health app usability questionnaire (MAUQ).

Participants will use the app in the next weeks and subsequently rate it. Results will be available at the congress.

The results can provide further insights in suitable deployment of communication apps in health-care settings.

Points for discussion:
• Are there apps for communication between sectors in other regions/countries?

• What are the experiences so far?

• How were other evaluation studies conducted in this setting?