A mobile health application for a chronically ill, low-literacy population

Kay Connelly, Indiana University

In this presentation, we describe the design of the Dietary Intake Monitoring Application (DIMA [1]), a mobile, electronic food diary for low-literacy patients with stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD patients do not have functioning kidneys, requiring them to undergo hemodialysis three times a week. Because excess fluids and toxins normally removed continuously by the kidneys are only removed every other day with dialysis, CKD patients have an extremely restricted prescribed diet. For example, a typical patient must limit their fluid to 1 liter a day, and their nutrients to 2 g of sodium. Failure to adhere to the diet can lead to a host of complications, including exacerbated hypertension, pulmonary edema, and even death. However, this population often lacks the computational and memory skills necessary to track their fluid and nutrient intake on their own, with as many as 80% of patients not restricting their fluid and 67% not limiting their nutrients. Further, this patient group is particularly difficult to design for as they have varying literacy skills, prohibiting text-based input and output. In this presentation, we describe our approach to designing for a chronically ill patient population that is not tech-savy and has educational barriers for using technology.

[1] Funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB): Award #1 R21 EB007083-01A1, titled Self-Monitoring of Dietary and Fluid Intake Using a PDA.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Kay Connelly is an Associate Professor in the School of Informatics at Indiana University. Her research interests are in the intersection of mobile and pervasive computing and healthcare. In particular, she is interested in issues that influence user acceptance of health technologies, such as privacy, integration into one’s lifestyle, convenience, and utility. Dr. Connelly works with a variety of patient groups, including very sick populations who need help in managing their disease, healthy populations interested in preventative care, and senior citizens looking to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Dr. Connelly is the Senior Associate Director for the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, and has recently taken the challenge to start a new Health Informatics program at Indiana University. Dr. Connelly received a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Indiana University (1995), and an MS (1999) and Ph.D. (2003) in Computer Science from the University of Illinois.