Mobile health: empowering people with type 2 diabetes using digital tools

13 May 2016


This report outlines a project aimed at developing evidence-based strategies to support wider adoption of mobile tablet devices in healthcare, initially focusing on type 2 diabetes. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Canberra, NICTA, ANU Medical School and Canberra Hospital, in collaboration with Ochre Health Medical Centre Bruce, conducted the project at the ACT GP Super Clinic.

The main objectives of this project were to: (i) Understand and overcome barriers to mHealth adoption among type 2 diabetes patients; (ii) Understand how Australian GPs perceive and understand the state of mHealth in their practice; and (iii) Increase digital engagement of health practitioners and patients through mHealth models of service.

The project consisted of four stages: participatory research design via workshops; participant recruitment; mHealth intervention with 28 type 2 diabetes patients including digital training and data collection, and a national GP survey; and the analysis and modelling of the data. Because mHealth is novel, we devised a participatory research design to capture the perspectives of Super Clinic healthcare practitioners and researchers. The outcome of the participatory workshops was a loose-knit mHealth pilot program design for type 2 diabetes patients. The program continued for 10 months. Participants were given mobile tablet devices (iPads) and were offered on-demand digital training and support. The researchers monitored participant choice, behaviour and engagement using online surveys and semi-structured interviews.

This research project demonstrates the potential of mHealth. Once mainstreamed, these digital initiatives have the capacity to merge face-to-face consultation with mobile health interactions according to specific needs. Current healthcare models can shift toward new and flexible modes.


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