Social construction of technology is a theory for to help study the ways that human actions shape technology. In order to understand how a technology might be determined a success or failure, one must look at society and its values. Stakeholders determine what is considered valuable and create a demand for something; success of a technology thus in part rides on its ability to meet these needs. For this reason, ASSIST aims to determine the user preferences of patients and clinicians in order to design and implement successful technologies. They do so through surveying. One example of this strategy is the work done by Dr. Amy Snipes and her team at Penn State to determine the requirements for patient acceptance of sensor wear for at-home asthma care.
In Penn State team’s survey, 150 parents of child asthma patients were questioned to gain insight into their needs and preferences. Findings suggest that potential consumers would like to use ASSIST devices, particularly those utilizing automated controls. Additional interest was shown in the use of devices that are wireless and controlled through a smartphone or handheld device. The preferred location of said device appears to be on the arm or torso, with less but significant support of an ankle worn device. The survey also helped unveil patterns in users who are more likely to accept the technology versus those who view nanotechnology as risky or “neither safe nor risky”. For example, a patient is more likely to display intent to use wearable devices if they 1) have a child who was diagnosed at a young age and is now 7-13 years old 2) wish to reduce hospital visits or 3) had a difficult time getting their child to adhere to other treatments. Additionally, a patient is more likely to use nanotechnology devices if they wish to have a closer partnership with their doctor. Overall, the survey provided insightful information about the desires of potential users of this asthma treatment. Moving forward, technology developers at ASSIST can use this information to target marketing campaigns at likely consumers or to attempt to change the minds of unlikely users.