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
- four people will die with a DFU.
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 overarching aim of this project is to investigate technologies to improve the lives of people with DFUs and the people who care for them.
One option for this student project is to advance MyFootCare with patients and caregivers. We are interested in exploring new technologies, such as:
- thermal imaging to identify infections
- voice assistance to guide people in taking images
- machine learning to analyse foot images.
Research activities may involve:
- prototype development and user experience evaluations
- 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
- how clinicians might benefit from patient-generated data.
Alternatively, you could explore new directions to support people with diabetes.This may involve the following research activities:
- interviews, surveys, and co-design workshops with people with diabetes and their caregivers to explore priorities and envision new digital technologies
- co-design workshops with patients and podiatrists to explore future telehealth solutions
- 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.
Upon completing this research, we expect to develop:
- a novel framework of self-tracking for self-care
- a theoretical understanding of how personal data can 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
As the ideal candidate you have a passion for improving health outcomes and a strong background in human-computer interaction or interaction design. You'll also have prior experience in user studies and prototyping.
Experience in working with people with diabetes is desirable.
You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.
- human-computer interaction
- health informatics
- personal informatics
- patient generated health data
- diabetic foot
- digital health
Contact Dr Bernd Ploderer for more information