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Reaching into patients’ homes – participatory designed AAL services

The case of a patient-centered nutrition tracking service


Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) offers possibilities for promising new IT-based health care services that are resulting in new challenges for its design process. We introduce a novel approach for engineering AAL services (AALSDA) which combines methods from service engineering and participatory design. We demonstrate this approach by developing and implementing an electronic data capture system, NuTrack, for self-reporting of nutrition status. The approach uses different concepts for AAL service design and delivery: service engineering for standardizing and structuring service processes, reasonable IT-support for automation of parts of services that need no person–to-person interaction, participatory design to integrate end-users in the development process, and patient integration for personalizing and improving the depth of performance of service providers’ service delivery. For illustration, we present the case of chronic disease patients suffering from impaired fine motor skills. Our approach is applied in a pilot study with prototypes tested in focus groups and workshops with patients, caregivers and physicians. The results demonstrate good applicability and feasibility of the concept, and provide new insights for the future design, development and implementation of AAL services.

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    NFC is a short range high frequency wireless communication technology that allows data exchange between devices that are about 4 inches apart (ISO/IEC 2004). It is a simple extension of the ISO/IEC 14443 (ISO/IEC 2000) proximity-card standard (such as contactless card, RFID, etc.) that combines the smart card and the reader into the same device. NFC is primarily aimed for use in mobile phones.


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Correspondence to Philipp Menschner.

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Menschner, P., Prinz, A., Koene, P. et al. Reaching into patients’ homes – participatory designed AAL services. Electron Markets 21, 63–76 (2011).

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  • Participatory design
  • Service engineering
  • Customer integration
  • Electronic data capture
  • AAL
  • eHealth

JEL classification

  • I10