Understanding Patients’ Needs in Diabetes for Mobile Health

Abstract—To understand how to encourage patients to become involved in mobile health (mHealth) development, and to identify their needs that existing mHealth services to not meet, we conducted a case study with diabetes patients. First, we used video analysis or interview to assess the usability of existing apps. Second, we conducted interviews with patients to elicit their clinical needs. We conclude that an mHealth app should provide
1) a function that can inform information about their insulin reaction to specific foods that they have previously eaten, 2) a report in doctor-familiar format to communicate with doctor easily, and 3) reviews of restaurants in SNS format. We developed a blood glucose management software Glucolight.

Mobile health (mHealth) can improve the effectiveness of diabetes self-care. Patients and healthcare providers can easily acquire patient-specific data from a mHealth service, because most patients always carry a mobile phone. Also, patients can make optimal clinical decisions by using analytical results of these data. mHealth applications (apps) also can be used to support diabetes care, but in Korea most patients do not use them, because (1) the user interfaces of existing apps are not easy to use, and (2) mHealth apps usually only record data and provide simple interpretation functions, so patients do not find any value in switching their self-care behavior from using a paper diary to using a mobile. Therefore, to develop successful mHealth apps for patients, we should consider both the design of the interface and the patients’ unmet needs. We studied two aspects of mHealth and developed a mobile app Glucolight. The user-centered approach has been used to develop mHealth in prior research [1]. Most researchers conducted requirement elicitation study before development, and tested the usability of their app after development. However, we thought that an early-stage study would be superior in both of these stages.
Usually, patients who have experienced abnormal blood glucose (BG) reactions have their own tacit knowledge of BG control. For example, by noting their bodily reaction, patients can remember the amount of insulin that is appropriate to specific meals. However, remembering BG reactions to all foods is a challenging and burdensome task. We also elicited the problem in our user study, and reflected it in our app.


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