Background: Recent shifts to telemedicine and remote patient monitoring demonstrate the potential for new technology to transform health systems; yet, methods to design for inclusion and resilience are lacking.
Objective: The aim of this study is to design and implement a participatory framework to produce effective health care solutions through co-design with diverse stakeholders.
Methods: We developed a design framework to cocreate solutions to locally prioritized health and communication problems focused on cancer care. The framework is premised on the framing and discovery of problems through community engagement and lead-user innovation with the hypothesis that diversity and inclusion in the co-design process generate more innovative and resilient solutions. Discovery, design, and development were implemented through structured phases with design studios at various locations in urban and rural Kentucky, including Appalachia, each building from prior work. In the final design studio, working prototypes were developed and tested. Outputs were assessed using the System Usability Scale as well as semistructured user feedback.
Results: We co-designed, developed, and tested a mobile app (myPath) and service model for distress surveillance and cancer care coordination following the LAUNCH (Linking and Amplifying User-Centered Networks through Connected Health) framework. The problem of awareness, navigation, and communication through cancer care was selected by the community after framing areas for opportunity based on significant geographic disparities in cancer and health burden resource and broadband access. The codeveloped digital myPath app showed the highest perceived combined usability (mean 81.9, SD 15.2) compared with the current gold standard of distress management for patients with cancer, the paper-based National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer (mean 74.2, SD 15.8). Testing of the System Usability Scale subscales showed that the myPath app had significantly better usability than the paper Distress Thermometer (t63=2.611; P=.01), whereas learnability did not differ between the instruments (t63=–0.311; P=.76). Notable differences by patient and provider scoring and feedback were found.
Conclusions: Participatory problem definition and community-based co-design, design-with methods, may produce more acceptable and effective solutions than traditional design-for approaches.