In this study a web service for the interactions between home carers and their clients was developed. The aim was to provide a system for the exchange of messages and topics of conversation relating to the clients' interests. The system had two unique characteristics: firstly the use of digital pens so that the carers did not have to change their usual working practices of keeping records on paper and secondly the carers received client related notifications and conversation topics via their mobile phones.
Digital pens collected the written information that made up the home carers' reports. The data was uploaded automatically to the server over the networks when the pens were placed in their cradles connected to relaying computers at home and/or care stations. The server was loaded with optical character recognition software that analyzed the character stroke or written data. There was also a home care database that handled the information on clients, home carers plus care and visiting schedules. The server based software automatically extracted the message part from a previous visit and emailed its recognised text to the mobile phone of the next carer, 30 min before their visit
The server also added conversation topics to the notification email. The topics were composed using open Internet services that included local news and information on recipes, weather, what happened on that day. This function was designed to automatically refine topic content according to its frequency and recency of the carers' access
The prototype was evaluated with over four hundred carers working in the field. The result showed that the notification email not only acted as a reminder about an impending visit, but also provided the carer with a chance to think a little more carefully about their conversation with their client, which in turn tended to result in improved rapport.