Using ubiquitous communication technology to improve pediatric asthma management
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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) for chronic care are increasingly being researched in Human-Computer Interaction. One of the current health management areas where ICTs have been employed is in supporting communications between patients and physicians. This is particularly relevant for patients suffering from chronic diseases since there is evidence that better communication leads to better health outcomes. Researchers are investigating different chronic diseases to design and test technology interventions to promote better chronic disease care. However, few have investigated pediatric asthma as a case study for designing communication technologies. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2008 that 300 million people suffer from asthma, and that asthma is the most common chronic illness among children. Asthma interferes with breathing by preventing airflow into the lungs. It is difficult to determine the actual cause of asthma and to predict who will have asthma. These unique challenges provide opportunities to investigate pediatric asthma management. To address these challenges, I have conducted a series of studies with pediatric asthma patients, families, and healthcare providers to better understand their needs, challenges and strategies regarding the use of technologies. I have conducted interviews, a focus group, and a technology probe study to create and refine initial technology designs for children with asthma and their caregivers. Based on the Health Belief Model (HBM), patient-provider communications, and my findings in the prior studies, I designed a mobile and web service to increase asthma knowledge and symptom/management awareness in the child for better health outcomes, and to affect the perceived quality of interaction with healthcare providers. I show the results of my two field deployment studies with total 65 patients to learn how the system affected their practices and health outcomes. My contributions come from an increased understanding in three areas: physician-patient communication via a mobile and web services; ubiquitous communication technology designs to improve current pediatric asthma practices; and controlled evaluation of a ubiquitous communication technology, SMS, in the field.