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Specialist Task Force 299: 

User Experience Guidelines for Telecare Solutions (e-Health)

Who we are:

STF 299 Team Picture

Team Leader

Bruno von Niman (vonniman consulting/ITS, Sweden)

Team Members

Steve Brown (BT Plc., United Kingdom)
Alejandro Rodriguez-Ascaso (UNED/AENOR, Spain)
Torbjørn Sund (Telenor AS, Norway

What we do :

This ETSI STF, co-funded by EC/EFTA under eEurope 2005 to produce the ETSI Guide DEG 202 487 on “Human Factors; User Experience Guidelines; Telecare Solutions (e-Health)”. The final draft is anticipated for end-August 2007 and its publication and free public availability in December 2007 (see time plan of the work below for further details). The work is performed in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders of the telecare industry, in a most open way.

There is an urgent need to address delivery of client-centred health care services over new channels, such as fixed and mobile broadband services in- and outside the home, aging societies requiring new approaches and the delivery of services to an increasing number of clients.

Human factors and the user experience of telecare services is a complex area, given the large number of influencing elements involving the establishment of human confidence, device setup, configuration, calibration and maintenance, data collection, user procedures, cultural issues such as the use of language and illustrations, the organization of the care provisioning process, and communication with diagnostic systems and carers, human communication and confirmation and decision making, the presentation medium and accessibility issues.
In addition, as telecare services can be used not only in but also outside of the home, usability aspects relating to the specifics of mobile environments and equipment and service use need to be covered. Last but not least, these services must be usable to young, older people, impaired, disabled or only temporarily ill people.

By means of user experience, telecare services can gain considerable benefits from applying human factors expertise. We foresee that the present document can have a major impact on several important stakeholders and areas:

  • for clients: understandable and usable set-up procedures and user guides for Telecare terminals and services, resulting in increased user satisfaction and inclusion of all users including those with special needs; improving their confidence in the use of Telecare systems, and thereby supporting their independent living style.   
  • for carers: improving efficiency and satisfaction of both formal and informal carers, when using Telecare systems.
  • for health and social care providers: providing them with guidelines for taking users’ views into account, and therefore improving their efficiency when adopting new Telecare procedures.

  • for manufacturers, designers and developers: references to generate products and services which are closer to the needs, abilities and preferences of users, thereby reducing unnecessary risks and experimentation inherent in the lifecycle of a product or service.
  • for public administration: support on decision taking during public procurement processes.
  • for policy makers and regulators: support the expansion of telecare services.

Medical devices have traditionally been designed for use by professionals, in hospital environments, and coming with an extensive training programme. With telecare, medical devices may require handling by the clients themselves, who are non-professionals, often with little or no training in using complex electronic devices. This requires a change in the mindset of the designers of medical equipment, so that a default workable configuration, fail-safe operating procedures, compatibility with other electronic equipment in use and set up and self-documenting without requiring manuals become a default part of the process.

There are opportunities to create additional benefits for clients, by integrating home safety monitoring and control systems with both health and social care oriented telecare systems. For maximum usability of telecare systems by the general population, more effort should be put into the design of services, hardware and user interfaces, with close attention paid to the opportunities of creating a single user interface, applying generic UI elements to control multiple applications and services for the client, carer or coordinator.

Systems must be designed to be fail-safe, not promote excessive dependency and be controllable remotely by carers or coordinators, when appropriate. To promote service oriented competition and innovation, client side hardware and software should ideally be interoperable with multiple service providers. Security and privacy issues will be decisive to the success of future telecare services. Further robust ethical guidelines must be debated and developed in order to best preserve the appropriate control, privacy and dignity of all users, under all circumstances.

Read our Terms of Reference

The final draft ETSI DEG 202 487 is available for your final comments here.

The slides from the ETSI Workshop held at Med-e-Tel 2007 on April 18 are available here, while the slides from the April19 presentation can be found here.
If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader, Bruno von Niman, directly through

Scope of the work

The ETSI Guide under development will provide human factors and user experience design guidelines for the specification, design, development, implementation, deployment, delivery, use, integration, maintenance and replacement of telecare (e-Health) services, based on the recommendations developed by STF264, provided in TR 102 415 (

The guidelines provided will be applicable to a wide range of telecare services and solution elements, addressing key characteristics and the interactions between them and their users. The application of the guidelines will lead to:

  • Telecare products with an improved user experience, operational compatibility and increased consistency in the delivery of telecare services;
  • Improved reliability, usability and accessibility of telecare products and service information with a higher perceived quality at a lower cost of deployment and ownership; and
  • Personalization of shared devices and services and transferable user knowledge.

The focus of the present document is on end user (client) aspects. The guidelines provided are applicable to end users (clients), informal carers, medical staff and medical service providers including professional carers and coordination agents, suppliers of telecare services and products, communication and infrastructure access providers and standardizers and certain relations between these.

The goal of the present document is to ensure the best possible user experience of telecare services, focusing on generic users but also addressing services aimed at users with temporary or permanent functional limitations, very young, older and disabled users. For this purpose, principles of design for all, adaptive design and assistive technologies are applied throughout the guideline generation process.

The present document does not address specific aspects of telemedicine but focuses on the telecare business-to-consumer service model described in [1].

Why we do it:

The changing demographics of Europe indicate a development towards a population getting older and living longer than ever. In 2051, 40% of the European population is expected to be older than 65 years.
The ageing of our society has unveiled the problem of dependency, as the number of dependant citizens is increasing, especially at the higher levels of the population pyramid.
The majority of the dependant population receives informal care, but the population of informal carers is decreasing and ageing. These facts may be causing the decrease of the family support to elderly people and people with disabilities and therefore demanding new paradigms to provide support to dependency and independent living.
Telecare has been identified as a strategic enabler of the provision of independent living to older people in their own homes, driven by demographics and new equipment technologies. The market is poised to expand rapidly over the coming years.

Telecare is generally associated with care of older people however, it has been shown that Telecare is applicable to the whole human age range from babies, through childhood, adults and older people. Additionally, many users in need of Telecare may have physical, cognitive or other impairment(s), which may be temporary or permanent. Telecare solutions must embrace the philosophy of design-for-all, promoting accessibility by as large a majority of end users as possible. Complementary solutions based on assistive technology must be available, when required.

National and international standards bodies have for many years addressed the needs of persons with disabilities, young and older people, developing specific standards in the areas such as assistive technology. For the elderly population, access to Telecare services is important but often difficult due to their lack of familiarity with ICT. The number of elderly people and people with special needs is growing rapidly, requiring dedicated supportive efforts for those unable to cope with every day’s technology.

There is a need for early European human factors standardisation involvement in telecare, as no dedicated human factors standardization work has been performed in this area previously.

eEurope has recognized that the potential of the Information Society (IS) “…is growing due to the technological developments of broadband and multi platform access”. e Health has been identified as one of the priority objectives of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan [3]. Milestones required to build a “European e Health area” have been defined:

  1. Basic level: by mid 2004, a European Health Identity Card (EHIC) shall be introduced (already achieved);
  2. National level: by 2005, EU member states are required to develop national and regional e Health strategies;
  3. Interoperability level: by 2006, national healthcare networks should be well advanced in their efforts to exchange information, including client identifiers;
  4. Networked level: by 2008, health information and services such as e prescription, e referral, Tele-monitoring and Telecare, are to become commonplace, accessible over both fixed and mobile broadband networks.

The above means that by 2008, Telecare services should be provided and be accessible over both fixed and mobile broadband networks in the European Union.

Time plan for the work:


Milestones Work development
February 2006 Start-up activities, work announcement
March 2006 First presentation at the 20TH International Human Factors in Telecommunication Symposium
April 2006 Second presentation at Med-e-Tel 2006
June 2006 Liaisons and stakeholder consultation initiated; first draft publicly available
September 2006 Workshop (preliminary)
January 2007 Interim Report to European Commission and EFTA
April 2007 Consensus building workshop
June 2007 Stable draft available; pre-approval public comment round
August 2007 Final draft EG available
September 2007 Final draft EG approved by ETSI Technical Committee Human Factors
September- November 2007 ETSI Membership Voting Procedure
December 2007 Publication and free public availability of the ETSI Guide
February 2008 Final Report to European Commission and EFTA and closure of STF299
March 2008 Follow-up work may start (preliminary)

How to contact us:

If you would like more information,

please contact the STF Leader, Bruno von Niman, directly on or
via their mailing list:


Note: this information is based upon STF working assumptions.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2010-02-18 10:21:53