Designing mobile technology to engage people with diabetic foot ulcers in self-care

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Ross Brown
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Peter Lazzarini
Joint Appointment
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Dr Bernd Ploderer
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Every day in Australia, 50,000 people are suffering with a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU), 1,000 are in hospital because of DFU, 12 will undergo an amputation and four people will die with DFU. People with a DFU typically require frequent and intensive weekly treatment at a multi-disciplinary diabetic foot clinic to effectively heal their DFU over a period of multiple months, to avoid infection, hospitalisation and amputation.

A key challenge to healing DFUs is effectively engaging people in their independent self-care away from the clinic. To date, self-care of people with DFU has been reported to be universally low. This project seeks to address the challenge of low adherence to self-care amongst patients with DFUs.

The main innovation of this project lies in a mobile application 'MyFootCare' that actively engages patients with a DFU in their self-care. This application has been developed together with patients and health professionals. MyFootCare lets patients take images of their feet. It then applies visual analytics techniques to provide automated feedback about the healing process, and to identify infection and possible new ulcers.

Research activities

The aim of your research project is to evaluate MyFootCare with patients and their carers and clinicians. This can involve several of the following activities:

  1. Usability and accuracy evaluations of the MyFootCare app
  2. Field trials of MyFootCare over several weeks, based on interviews and log data, to study how people use the app and how it influences their self-care
  3. Observations of consultations between patients and clinicians to understand if and how MyFootCare data might empower patients in their care, as well as how clinicians might benefit from additional data

Depending on your technical skills, you may also further develop the existing MyFootCare prototype, or contribute design specifications for other developers.


The main outcomes will be:

  1. a novel framework of self-tracking for self-care
  2. an understanding of how personal data might empower patients and clinicians during consultations
  3. design guidelines for engaging diabetes patients in self-care
  4. new interaction techniques for controlling mobile phones
  5. new computer vision techniques and mobile apps to identify healing progress, infection and potential new ulcers.

Skills and experience

Required skills:

  • a strong background in human-computer interaction, ideally with some experience in ethnographic methods and human-centred design
Desirable skills:
  • mobile application development (Android), computer vision and experience with OpenCV would be useful to develop the current MyFootCare prototype further.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact Dr Bernd Ploderer at for more information.