Promoting Self-Care of Diabetic Foot Ulcers Through a Mobile Phone App: User-Centered Design and Evaluation
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Authors: Ploderer B, Brown R, Seng LSD, Lazzarini PA, van Netten JJ
Publication: JMIR diabetes
Without effective self-care, people with diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are at risk of prolonged healing times, hospitalization, amputation, and reduced quality of life. Despite these consequences, adherence to DFU self-care remains low. New strategies are needed to engage people in the self-care of their DFUs.
This study aimed to evaluate the usability and potential usefulness of a new mobile phone app to engage people with DFUs in self-care.
We developed a new mobile phone app, MyFootCare, to engage people with DFUs through goals, progress monitoring, and reminders in self-care. Key features included novel visual analytics that automatically extract and monitor DFU size information from mobile phone photos of the foot. A functional prototype of MyFootCare was created and evaluated through a user-centered design process with 11 participants with DFUs. Data were collected through semistructured interviews discussing existing self-care practices and observations of MyFootCare with participants. Data were analyzed qualitatively through thematic analysis.
Key themes were as follows: (1) participants already used mobile phone photos to monitor their DFU progress; (2) participants had limited experience with using mobile phone apps; (3) participants desired the objective DFU size data provided by the tracking feature of MyFootCare to monitor their DFU progress; (4) participants were ambivalent about the MyFootCare goal image and diary features, commenting that these features were useful but also that it was unlikely that they would use them; and (5) participants desired to share their MyFootCare data with their clinicians to demonstrate engagement in self-care and to reflect on their progress.
MyFootCare shows promising features to engage people in DFU self-care. Most notably, ulcer size data are useful to monitor progress and engage people. However, more work is needed to improve the usability and accuracy of MyFootCare, that is, by refining the process of taking and analyzing photos of DFUs and removing unnecessary features. These findings open the door for further work to develop a system that is easy to use and functions in everyday life conditions and to test it with people with DFUs and their carers.