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MDASH: A Mobile Health Application Framework

MDASH: A Mobile Health Application Framework

Mercer Borris, Daniel Redelmeier, and Jason Waterman

This project concentrated on mHealth, or mobile health, which is the use of mobile devices to improve an individual's health and well-being. The practice of mHealth has become increasingly popular with the growing availability of smartphones and tablets as a way to monitor patients, their illnesses, and their treatments. This is especially prominent in developing countries, where a smartphone might be the only source of computing power and internet. mHealth can be useful for the monitoring of chronic conditions, which can be managed but not cured, and thus often require lifestyle changes of the patient. They also account for 75% of health care costs (CDC). Our goal was to make self-management of chronic illness easier by providing patients with a simple app on their smartphones. While the technology exists to solve this problem, the infrastructure does not.

We built a framework for creating mobile applications that manage chronic illnesses. Rather than write separate apps for diabetes, asthma, and so on, we wanted to develop one common structure, and then implement that structure for each specific app. We decided that this structure should allow for the integration of sensor data and web services data within the app, and our main design choice was the decision to store all the data in a local, secure database on the phone. This aligned with our goal to provide users with complete control over their (often sensitive) information, which is a more private option compared to most health applications on the market that store user data on the internet. Furthermore, this common application framework could eventually help other developers easily produce new smartphone applications tailored to specific chronic conditions. With a complete and available base structure, future developers would not need to be computer scientists.

During the rest of the summer, we developed two proof-of-concept applications that successfully implemented this architecture. Both gather data regularly, store it on the phone, and present it to the user. The first test application, WeightTracker, fetches the user's weight from a WiFi-enabled scale every day. The second, ActivityTracker, fetches data from the phone's built-in sensors every 20 seconds to determine what activity the user is currently performing, and it logs their time spent exercising. Finally, we ran tests that confirmed the low overhead and minimal battery drain of our applications, meaning that they would be a suitable and feasible aid to those suffering from chronic illness.

Literature Cited