Older adults, and those living with physical and mental health conditions, may experience fluctuations in daily cognition that are linked to underlying changes in their health. Quantifying these fluctuations may help us to better understand the biological mechanisms underlying health and functional impairment, monitor health conditions more effectively and better tailor treatment to individual needs. However, current clinical practice does not provide convenient means of collecting repeated measures of cognitive fluctuations occurring across short time-periods, such as within a day.
We aimed to address this gap in cognitive fluctuation measurement by developing a smartphone app to measure cognitive function on a more frequent basis in people with cognitive impairment.
The app was developed using an Agile methodology, which allowed for end-user input to be incorporated at key points throughout the design and development process. Four co-design workshops, developed to consult end users (people living with a de-mentia diagnosis (PwD), care partners and advocates) about software implementations, were integrated alongside time-boxed software sprints that enabled user feedback to be fed into the next development iteration.
This co-design approach resulted in several user-led software alterations that had not been predicted by the development team. Importantly, the time-boxed approach to app development meant that the less user-friendly design elements were addressed early in the development process, before too much resource was committed to software development.
End-user input was important throughout the development process for early identification of usability issues. The benefits of this approach were, reduced costs, faster development and potentially a more user friendly app. Further research would be useful to better understand the benefits of this approach to developing health-related software. MyMindCheck is a customisable software platform, which could have further cognitive tests added and could be applied to other health conditions.