The level of participation during the development of a mobile care data application for home-based healthcare in a developing context: An actor-network theory perspective

Retha de la Harpe


The context of this study is home-based healthcare in a South African resource-restricted community. The research case involved the design and development of a mobile care data application, created to assist community caregivers in their professional activities. The development principles of a suitable application for feature phones (limited functionality) in this context are not fully established, however. For the mobile care data application, a participatory design approach was employed. It was observed, conversely, that the level of participation of all stakeholders differed significantly. It was especially observed that the designer and end-users were less involved in the actual development of the prototype. These differences may have an influence on the end product/result. Actor-network theory may provide the mechanism to describe how the human and non-human actors formed relations as they participate in these processes. Considering the alignment of such networks, the coordination, devices and passages during the four translation moments provide valuable insights in the design and development of technology products. This paper will consider these elements in more depth. With a social embeddedness perspective the level of participation was high during the design of the proposed ICT solution with the active participation of the care givers from the developing context. The socio-economic factors of the developing context influenced the development of the mobile application with the complexities of the socio-technical context evident in the difficult translations between the participants


Home-based healthcare, participatory design, mobile application, mobile development, actor-network theory

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