Prometheus

Design provides
better patient care

Design can prove to be considerably more important than previously thought for the self-care of chronically ill patients. Professor Peter Gall Krogh is developing new sensor-based prototypes of self-monitoring devices that will help urology patients.


A new design tool will make it easier to individualise technology for self-monitoring and thereby motivate patients to take a far more active role in their own treatment. Researchers are carrying out the first pilot studies on Danish patients in a urology ward.

Chronically ill patients are now, to a large extent, co-responsible for maintaining a lifestyle and regulating behaviour that has a positive impact on their own symptom development. Examples of this could be following a plan for medication intake, complying with dietary recommendations, maintaining a sleep pattern, and increasing the level of physical activity.

The hospital sector is to an increasing degree implementing technology-based self-monitoring with a view to helping patients maintain health-improving activities and habits.

No complete documentation is yet available for the effect of a patient’s technology-based self-monitoring, and researchers are therefore taking a closer look at the correlation between measuring devices and symptom development.

In an international project, they are studying the design of the actual measuring devices as well as the importance of the design regarding how patients record their activity, how they experience their state of health, and the interpretation of data by health personnel.

“People used to be sent home from hospital with a pamphlet on how to deal with their illness. Practitioners now have far more focus on teaching individual patients to master their illness by means of appropriate habits. Preliminary studies here show that self-monitoring can be crucial for lifestyle changes. The challenge is that patients are different, and the self-monitoring devices should therefore optimally be designed based on individual needs and preferences in terms of both technological interaction and physical design,” says Professor Peter Gall Krogh.

The researchers are also studying areas such as how the design of the self-monitoring devices can address the physical condition and technological insight of the patients.

Stronger motivation for self-monitoring

To meet individual preferences regarding self-monitoring, the researchers in the project are working on developing a design tool and a number of sensor-based prototypes that can communicate in different ways with external wireless units and networks.

“Doctors would like their patients to regularly record any pain they experience or their fluid intake, etc. But how does this work best? For one patient, it could be entering a numeric value on a smartphone. However, it could be something completely different for another. Hospitals today use more or less randomly selected standard electronic devices. Our hypothesis is that we can achieve far better results with self-monitoring if the selection of the measuring units is based on the individual patient’s preferences, prerequisites and user context. It’s a matter of integrating technology development, patient care, and design thinking,” says Professor Krogh.

Increased fluid intake among renal patients

In the first stage of the pilot project, the researchers’ sensor-based prototypes will be tested by practitioners and kidney stone patients at the Department of Urology, Little Belt Hospital. The project will specifically demonstrate aspects such as the effect of custom-designed sensors and healthcare wearables as regards increasing fluid intake in patients.

A patient with kidney stones must drink at least six litres of fluid per day to reduce pain in connection with urination. “

The question is how to get a self-monitoring device to work that can motivate individual patients to drink so much water and remember to record their fluid intake? Should it be a wristband, a handle, an iPad or a stone in their pocket? It’s a question of designing prototypes based on a deep understanding of the individual person’s relation to technology,” says Professor Krogh.

PROJECT FACTS

Project title
Prometheus

Schedule
2016–2018

Financial Framework
DKK 9.5 million
EU Interreg

Project Partners
University of Southern Denmark (SDU)
Little Belt Hospital
Kiel University Hospital

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