Wearable devices to support patient health and well-being
The overall increase of chronic diseases represents one among the major challenges for the healthcare system and healthcare assistance worldwide. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), these diseases (in particular cardiovascular diseases, tumors, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes) are the major cause of death on a global level.
From these premises, WEHMIX project (i.e. WEarable Human Machine Interaction user eXperience for Healthcare) was created in the framework legislation 6/99 on the incentives for the companies of the Autonomous Province of Trento, also thanks to the tight collaboration with innovative realities like FBK - Fondazione Bruno Kessler and Agenzia LAMA - Development and Cooperation Agency.
This research project was born with the purpose of improving both the quality of the services provided in the Health and Assistance environment and quality of life of the citizen/patient by means of the integration of technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), MotionTracking(MT) and Wearable Device for the market of consumers.
During the entire project we encountered various challenges and problems: nevertheless, two main factors guided us during the entire research, letting us reach our goals:
The immaturity of the technologies of references let us being the first ones to face determined problems from the technical point of view and those regarding the design of the user experience.
Some instruments among those we used in this project are shown below
In the project research environment we realized a prototype of the system able to connect 1+ devices from various brand onto a unique platform. It is important to sa that these devices would not communicate between them normally.
Inside a unique interconnected ecosystem, the bulk of data is aggregated, organised and proposed in an accessible manner, compatible with the sanitary interoperability standards. Thus, the platforms is able to provide the user with a complete picture regarding his own health, his physical activities and the environment around him.
In order to support the user in the interpretation of data and in their conversion in solutions relative to health, there is the possibility to log in to a 360° complete professional support inside the platform.
The functional prototype, made of wearable devices, smartphone apps, website and associated software, has been designed using a user-centred approach, using user testing and constant feedback that allowed us to develop the best practices of UX for wearable device.
WEHMIX platform was tested inside a pilot testing, 20 people were involved in two sperimentale scenarios and use contexts:
- corporate wellness - CW
- active and healthy ageing - AHA
We had the possibility also to extend the research to wearable devices equipped with augmented reality technology. With the collaboration and direct experimentation with experts of healthcare sector we managed to elaborate some UX best practices for the design of systems in the medical environment that need to be highly flexible due to their restrictive use.
In particular, even tough the glasses for augmented reality have a huge impact that could compromise the intimacy of the doctor-patient relationship (this aspect was found in the experimentations, especially in the age range 55+, value much lower in younger age ranges). For this reason, the possibility of leaving the professional's hands free, together with the possibility to access the data of the patient in real-time opens new scenarios for giving a major efficacy to the professional intervention in a precision medicine optic.
This research project gave us the opportunity to develop a functional prototype and UX best practices, taking the ALPHA versione to a BETA one, arriving to a pre-production level with WellyVillage product, selected from the jury to be presented in occasion for the Web Marketing Festival 2018.
Regarding the activities of dissemination of the WEHMIX project, we published a scientific paper having the title: Improving the Impact of Wearable Devices in Health Promotion and Wellbeing: the WEHMIX Project. It was presented at the eHealth international conference, telemedicine and social medicine, eTELEMED 2018. This presentation let us win the Best Paper Award of the International Academy, Research and Industry Association.
It is possible to download the paper "Improving the Impact of Wearable Devices in Health Promotion and Wellbeing: the WEHMIX Project" at this link.
We have also created a white paper aiming at expanding the project to a larger scale.
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