Melbourne (May 2014) - Studies presented at the World Heart Federation's World Congress of Cardiology showcase new research on best practices in the design and development of healthcare mobile applications, in order to optimize usability and maximise impact in different populations across the world.
Around 75% of the world's inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone. Out of the estimated 6 billion phone subscriptions worldwide, 5 billion are in developing countries.i Figures show there were over 30 billion app downloads worldwide in 2012ii, including a surge in the uptake of apps focused on education and information rather than entertainment.
This wide access to mobile applications provides enormous opportunities to improve the reach and effectiveness of health self-management programmes and enhance communication between patients and healthcare professionals, particularly in the field of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In order to ensure that apps are responsive to the needs of patients and healthcare professionals, experts say the development of best practices in the field is a priority.
National examples presented at the World Congress of Cardiology illustrate how effective e-health strategies can be designed to educate and improve health outcomes in the prevention and treatment of CVD in two very different healthcare settings.
Australia: using e-health to support lifestyle changes and prevent CVD
E-health programmes can be very useful in the prevention of CVD, in particular to support lifestyle changes in patients at high risk of CVD or who have already experienced a cardiac event. In this study, led by The George Institute for Global Health, Australian academics reviewed how web and mobile apps could be best designed for effective CVD risk reduction and found that the use of personas and journey maps are valuable tools to create effective e-health tools.
To reach this conclusion, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers ran a workshop with the purpose of mapping a journey framework, actually reconstructing the steps of a CVD patient from life before their cardiac event to post-hospital care. Interviews, photo-diaries and a workshop involving CVD patients and those at high CVD risk were held, to capture personal experiences and refine the journey.
Following this, four "personas" of patients were created, each of them representing different risk profiles across a range of demographics, including needs, backgrounds and ages.
Using these personas and mapping, the team identified the main touch points where e-health tools could provide additional support to respond to specific patient's needs, such as 'help me understand my risk of CVD' or 'help motivate me'.
"E-Health is reshaping healthcare delivery across the globe. It provides new opportunities to improve healthcare for patients and optimise lifestyle-related changes for cardiovascular disease prevention. User-centred tools like the CVD journey maps and personas help us to understand people's needs in relation to their lifestyles, motivations and choices and can aid in the development of successful, supportive and relevant mobile applications for all," commented Associate Professor David Peiris, Program Head Primary Health Care Research, The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Australia.
Apps for all: best practice in developing mobile apps in a low resource setting in India
A study undertaken by Dr Dhruv Kazi and colleagues studied the role of an m-health intervention to reduce death and disability from stroke among low-literacy patients on blood thinning treatments. This study, based in Bangalore, India, tested a number of prototypes with stakeholders in the healthcare system, including patients, nurses, physicians, administrators, information technology staff, engineers, and software developers in hospital and community-based settings in Mysore and Bangalore. The results showed that:
"These overarching principles can guide entrepreneurs, software developers, public health experts, and governments as they develop locally-relevant mobile solutions to address the ongoing epidemic of cardiovascular disease. We found that agile development practices - including rapid, iterative prototyping and early, frequent engagement of patients and providers - yielded invaluable insights that greatly enhanced the usability and acceptability of the final product. Well-designed and validated mobile applications can revolutionize the delivery of affordable, high quality healthcare in low-resource settings, but only if they are sensitive to the needs of the end-user. Applied correctly, m-health has the potential to alleviate the burden of cardiovascular disease in the most vulnerable sections of society," explained Dhruv Kazi, Division of Cardiology, University of California, San Francisco, USA.
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About the World Congress of Cardiology (WCC)
The World Congress of Cardiology is the official congress of the World Heart Federation and is held every two years. The congress brings together thousands of cardiologists and other healthcare professionals from around the world, and represents an important forum for discussing all aspects of prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. WCC 2014 is taking place in Melbourne, Australia from 4-7 May 2014 and is co-hosted by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.
About the World Heart Federation
The World Heart Federation is the only global advocacy and leadership organization bringing together the cardiovascular disease (CVD) community to help people everywhere lead heart-healthy lives. We strive for a world where there are at least 25% fewer premature deaths from CVD by 2025.
That's why we and our 200+ members work courageously to end needless deaths from exposure to tobacco and other risk factors, lack of access to treatment, and neglected conditions like rheumatic heart disease which kills hundreds of thousands of children each year. Across 100 countries, with its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle CVD- the world's number one killer. World Heart Federation is at the heart of driving the CVD agenda and advocating for better heart health - enabling people to live longer, better and more heart healthy lives whoever and wherever they are.
For more information, please visit: www.worldheart.org; www.facebook.com/worldheartfederation and twitter.com/worldheartfed
About The George Institute for Global Health
The George Institute for Global Health is improving the lives of millions of people worldwide through innovative health research. Working across a broad health landscape, the Institute conducts clinical, population and health system research aimed at changing health practice and policy worldwide. The Institute has a global network of medical and health experts working together to address the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Established in Australia and affiliated with The University of Sydney, the Institute today also has offices in China, India and the United Kingdom, and is also affiliated with Peking University Health Science Centre, the University of Hyderabad and the University of Oxford.
iWorld Bank, Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile, 2012
iiMobi thinking. Global mobile statistics 2013. http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/e
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