User Perceptions and Experiences of a Handheld 12-Lead Electrocardiographic Device in a Clinical Setting: Usability Evaluation

Kam Cheong Wong 1, 2, 3, 4 ; Aravinda Thiagalingam 1, 3, 5 e ; Saurabh Kumar 1, 3, 5 ; Simone Marschner 1 ; Ritu Kunwar 1 ; Jannine Bailey 2 ; Cindy Kok 6 ; Tim Usherwood 1, 3, 7 ; Clara K Chow 1, 3, 5, 7, 8

JMIR Cardio 2021;5(2):e21186 doi:10.2196/21186



Background: Cardiac arrhythmias are a leading cause of death. The mainstay method for diagnosing arrhythmias (eg, atrial fibrillation) and cardiac conduction disorders (eg, prolonged corrected QT interval [QTc]) is by using 12-lead electrocardiography (ECG). Handheld 12-lead ECG devices are emerging in the market. In tandem with emerging technology options, evaluations of device usability should go beyond validation of the device in a controlled laboratory setting and assess user perceptions and experiences, which are crucial for successful implementation in clinical practice.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate clinician and patient perceptions and experiences, regarding the usability of a handheld 12-lead ECG device compared to a conventional 12-lead ECG machine, and generalizability of this user-centered approach.

Methods: International Organization for Standardization Guidelines on Usability and the Technology Acceptance Model were integrated to form the framework for this study, which was conducted in outpatient clinics and cardiology wards at Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia. Each patient underwent 2 ECGs (1 by each device) in 2 postures (supine and standing) acquired in random sequence. The times taken by clinicians to acquire the first ECG (efficiency) using the devices were analyzed using linear regression. Electrocardiographic parameters (QT interval, QTc interval, heart rate, PR interval, QRS interval) and participant satisfaction surveys were collected. Device reliability was assessed by evaluating the mean difference of QTc measurements within ±15 ms, intraclass correlation coefficient, and level of agreement of the devices in detecting atrial fibrillation and prolonged QTc. Clinicians’ perceptions and feedback were assessed with semistructured interviews based on the Technology Acceptance Model.

Results:A total of 100 patients (age: mean 57.9 years, SD 15.2; sex: male: n=64, female n=36) and 11 clinicians (experience acquiring ECGs daily or weekly 10/11, 91%) participated, and 783 ECGs were acquired. Mean differences in QTc measurements of both handheld and conventional devices were within ±15 ms with high intraclass correlation coefficients (range 0.90-0.96), and the devices had a good level of agreement in diagnosing atrial fibrillation and prolonged QTc (κ=0.68-0.93). Regardless of device, QTc measurements when patients were standing were longer duration than QTc measurements when patients were supine. Clinicians’ ECG acquisition times improved with usage (P<.001). Clinicians reported that device characteristics (small size, light weight, portability, and wireless ECG transmission) were highly desired features. Most clinicians agreed that the handheld device could be used for clinician-led mass screening with enhancement in efficiency by increasing user training. Regardless of device, patients reported that they felt comfortable when they were connected to the ECG devices.

Conclusions: Reliability and usability of the handheld 12-lead ECG device were comparable to those of a conventional ECG machine. The user-centered evaluation approach helped us identify remediable action to improve the efficiency in using the device and identified highly desirable device features that could potentially help mass screening and remote assessment of patients. The approach could be applied to evaluate and better understand the acceptability and usability of new medical devices.

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