Every day in Australia, 50,000 people are suffering with a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU), 1,000 are in hospital because of a DFU, 12 will undergo an amputation and four people will die with a 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 at the Prince Charles Hospital.
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.
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:
- usability and accuracy evaluations of the MyFootCare app
- 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
- 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 patient-generated data.
Depending on your skills, you may also develop new directions to support people with diabetes, such as:
- interactive machine learning based on foot photos to improve the interaction with MyFootCare prototype
- co-designed workshops created alongside people with diabetes and their caregivers to explore priorities and envision new digital technologies
- online communities and social media to connect people with DFUs and to promote peer support
- Internet of Things and tangible designs that promote healthy living and connectedness
The main outcomes will be:
- a novel framework of self-tracking for self-care
- an understanding of how personal data might empower patients and clinicians during consultations
- design guidelines for engaging diabetes patients in self-care
- new interaction techniques for controlling mobile phones
- new computer vision techniques and mobile apps to identify healing progress, infections and potential new ulcers.
Skills and experience
To be considered for the project you should have a passion for promoting better outcomes for people living with chronic conditions.
A strong background in human-computer interaction or health informatics will be required. This can be either with skills in qualitative research and participatory design or with technical skills, such as app development, computer vision and machine learning.
You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.
- human-computer interaction
- health informatics
- interaction design
- diabetic foot
- mobile technology
Contact Dr Bernd Ploderer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information