Customized mHealth approach aims to boost diabetic self-care

A new mHealth app developed by a University of Louisiana at Lafayette research team may boost chronic disease management by using health informatics data to spur increased self-care by patients managing diabetes, according to information presented last week at the American Health Information Management Association's annual convention in New Orleans.

The researchers say advanced analytics and data mining can improve development of personalized tools to help chronic care management and also identify behavioral changes to improve outcomes.

"As healthcare systems move from volume-based to value-based reimbursement models, providers are looking for new ways to engage patients as active participants in the management of their care," Scott Sittig, head of the Department of Allied Health at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said in an announcement.

Both hospitals and managed care organizations house massive amounts of health data in their medical claims databases, according to Sittig. "Traditionally, the data are used for administrative functions, such as predicting hospital readmissions," he said. "Through the use of advanced analytics and data mining, we've shown that the data also can be used to develop personalized mHealth self-care tools to help patients manage their disease."  

Type 2 diabetes care currently is one of the biggest focus points for mHealth apps and devices.

Recently, for instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new mHealth device, Medtronic's MiniMed Connect, and Samsung Electronics and Medtronic are teaming up to develop apps to provide insight and access on diabetes data, including glucose monitoring information.

However, while diabetics age 50 and older are interested in using mobile apps as part of their treatment and care, many say the technology should be customized and greater education is necessary regarding data security and privacy protection

The University of Louisiana app is being piloted by 99 patients and researchers, and Sittig expects to have initial results by the start of next year. The research team aims to use the software for management of other chronic conditions and diseases.

For more information:
- read the announcement (.pdf)

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