Usability of Telemedicine Mobile Applications during COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia: A Heuristic Evaluation of Patient User Interfaces

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Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Nov 18;9(11):1574. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9111574.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the use of telemedicine application (apps), which has seen an uprise. This study evaluated the usability of the user interface design of telemedicine apps deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia. It also explored changes to the apps’ usability based on the pandemic timeline.

METHODS: We screened ten mHealth apps published by the National Digital Transformation Unit and selected three telemedicine apps: (1) governmental “Seha”® app, (2) stand-alone “Cura”® app, and (3) private “Dr. Sulaiman Alhabib”®app. We conducted the evaluations in April 2020 and in June 2021 by identifying positive app features, using Nielsen’s ten usability heuristics with a five-point severity rating scale, and documenting redesign recommendations.

RESULTS: We identified 54 user interface usability issues during both evaluation periods: 18 issues in “Seha” 14 issues in “Cura”, and 22 issues in “Dr. Sulaiman Alhabib”. The two most heuristic items violated in “Seha”, were “user control and freedom” and “recognition rather than recall”. In “Cura”, the three most heuristic items violated were “consistency and adherence to standards”, “esthetic and minimalist design”, and “help and documentation” In “Dr. Sulaiman Alhabib” the most heuristic item violated was “error prevention”. Ten out of the thirty usability issues identified from our first evaluation were no longer identified during our second evaluation.

CONCLUSIONS: our findings indicate that all three apps have a room for improving their user interface designs to improve the overall user experience and to ensure the continuity of these services beyond the pandemic.

PMID:34828620 | DOI:10.3390/healthcare9111574