Given the burden diabetes causes and with the number of people being diagnosed with the condition rapidly increasing, our project will delve into ways social networking can assist people suffering with diabetes.

1.      EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Chronic diseases generally do not cure completely; most times persisting is an individual throughout their entire life. It can be quite intensive for the person, not only having to deal with the symptoms but also how to effectively manage it. One such disease is diabetes. Diabetes is a medical condition where the body is unable to process glucose (blood sugar) in a normal way.  It is the world’s fastest-growing chronic disease and sixth-leading cause of death in Australia (Diabetes Australia Queensland 2013). Given the burden diabetes causes and with the number of people being diagnosed with the condition rapidly increasing, our project will delve into ways social networking can assist people suffering with diabetes.

Our project will be supervised by the lecturer, a senior lecturer at the university. He has had extensive experience in researching about Health / Medical Informatics; and so, will be guiding us through this project. In implementing our idea, certain criteria need to be addressed and adhered to throughout the process. We need to consider what location we will focus on, how our idea can solve the current problem, understand its significance and realise the possible limitations that may be encountered.

We will create a specially-designed website for diabetics, with the following three features: (1) a blood glucose predictor (the main feature), (2) ability to share your results and (3) user profiles. —

While researching what social networking services are currently available for people suffering from chronic diseases, we came across a website called PatientsLikeMe. While this site provides an avenue for users to share their health experiences, we felt their approach was misguided; where the focus was more on the symptoms rather than proper management of the condition, to prevent the symptoms from occurring in the first place. Instead, our website will be a friendly environment where users can share advice on diet, exercise and other factors to hopefully assist people who are having difficulties managing their diabetes.

To complete this project, all group members will collaborate via Google+, email and face-to-face meetings at university. All documentation will be uploaded to a shared folder on Dropbox. In addition to a research paper, a basic prototype will be created; to show some of the functionality of the website. As our proposed project has not been done before, we will ensure the idea is implemented properly and the end result is of high quality. We hope our contributions can be used for existing research studies and expect our database information to be a beneficial tool for the healthcare industry.

*** Not finished ***

2.      INTRODUCTION

As the number of people suffering from chronic diseases escalates, changes are required in regards to how healthcare institutions assist in improving their quality of life. Our group will be analysing a specific healthcare service and proposing a social networking solution so people suffering from the chronic disease chosen, are able to manage it better. Given the fact that about 898,000 people in Australia has some form of diabetes, which represents 4% of the population, we will look at how we can assist people with diabetes (Australian Institution of Health and Welfare, 2013). This will be achieved through a new website that will consist of various features, specifically designed to help diabetics manage their condition more effectively. There are several types of diabetes that exist:

  • Type 1 – the pancreas does not produce insulin because the cells that make the insulin have been destroyed by the person’s immune system (affects 10 to 15 percent of all diabetics);
  • Type 2 – the body still produces some insulin, but is usually not enough or work well enough to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range (affects 85 to 90 percent of all diabetics);
  • Gestational diabetes – only in women, the body still produces insulin normally, but the body is temporarily less responsive to it due to other hormones produced during pregnancy (affects 3 to 8 percent of women during pregnancy, usually goes away when the baby is born); and
  • Pre-diabetes – these people have higher-than-normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Usually one in three people with this condition, go on to develop type 2 diabetes within ten years (Diabetes Australia Queensland, 2013).

3.      CLIENT PROFILE / STAKEHOLDER DETAILS

3.1.     Background

The lecturer has a particular interest in Health / Medical Informatics with a focus in designing and developing Health Information Technology and Clinical Decision Support Systems. With over twenty years’ experience in research and thorough professional experience, he is mentoring this project where we will be examining where improvements can be made to certain healthcare services by utilising various social networking tools .

 

 

4.      PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The project involves conducting research and analysis of how to use social networking capabilities for healthcare service improvements. The team will produce a written report to present our findings and solution to the research problem. The research project will address the following issues:

  • Choose the location / chronic disease
  • Define, identify and describe the healthcare service improvements
  • How can we solve the problem?
  • Why is it significant?
  • What are the limitations and challenges?

Thus, our research project focuses on improving the healthcare services for people with diabetes, especially those residing in remote areas, through the use of social networking tools. Briefly, the solution we are proposing consists of the following features: (1) a blood glucose predictor (the main feature), (2) ability to share your results and (3) user profiles. The proposed solution will be elaborated on in the next section.

5.      SCOPE & OBJECTIVE

The social networking application we are aiming to develop could potentially be a great success and significant for current healthcare services. Our idea focuses on helping diabetics through the use of social networking tools, with the following three (3) features:

  • A blood glucose predictor (the main feature)

The user will input information in regards to what they will do over the next few hours (i.e. food eaten, physical activity etc.). Based on these details, the system will predict their blood glucose level (based on an aggregate figure) after the specified tasks have been completed; upon which, the user will input their actual blood glucose level. The system would then calculate the average of the actual result and predicted (aggregate) result. This new figure would then be used on the next occasion the same activity is selected by any user. It is hoped that over time, as more comparisons are made, the information will become more accurate. There will be back-end supervisors monitoring all results collected, to ensure the integrity of the data is maintained. The following table illustrates the process detailed above, for one activity (it assumes this is the first time this specific activity has been selected):

Activity Duration Change in Blood Glucose Level
Walking 30 minutes  0.50 mmol/L (predicted figure)
After their walk:  0.40 mmol/L (actual figure)
Walking 30 minutes  0.45 mmol/L (new [average] figure)

* Example only – blood glucose figures used may be incorrect

  • Ability to share your results

This lets users share their blood glucose results; thereby allowing others to comment on it. It provides an opportunity for people to also post their daily regime, which may assist other diabetics in making healthier choices; or if a user’s levels are not good, they can ask the online community how they can manage their diabetes better. Two settings will be available for the users: private – where only the user’s Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers can see their status or public – where the whole community (on the website) can see the status.

  • User profiles

These profiles will allow users to keep a history of their various activities and corresponding results as well as browse other profiles to, for example, get ideas on what foods and activities can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. Each user will have a score which is based on their blood glucose results for that month. The more ‘healthy range’ results, the better their score will be. If they score well on a regular basis, their name will be displayed on the site’s leaderboard; so users can recognise the people that are maintaining an excellent blood glucose level; so they can ask them for assistance, if they choose. The score will be reset each month.

The development throughout the project will include:

  • Finding an appropriate website domain
  • Configuration of the database system
  • The website design and layout
  • Information criteria to be entered in predictor
  • Further research related to this healthcare service
  • Security and integrity of the system
  • Extra minor features
  • Team co-operation and management
  • Writing up a research report of our proposal
  • Implementation for the real work usability
  • Regular maintenance

6.      TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

The website must be compatible with all browsers, user-friendly and simple to use. The layout in general must be clean and not complicated so people of all ages are able to use the website. There will also be a large database system to store the information, especially data pertaining to the prediction feature (the of blood glucose levels of each specific activity). Ultimately, the implementation of the proposed system will require expert programmers and web developers to create it.

7.      MANAGEMENT

7.1.     Critical Path Analysis

As the Gantt Diagram (in section 7.6) illustrates, the most time consuming aspect of the social networking analysis will be the actual development of the system; although significant research will need to be done first. Our idea could potentially be great success for the healthcare industry. This would be included in our critical path analysis of the project, as any delays along the way, may result in the end product being delayed. As such, all tasks will be undertaken at the earliest possible time in order to reduce the impact of any possible delays. The critical path is as follows:

Ø  Finding appropriate website domainØ  Configuring of a database system

Ø  Creating the layout diagrams for the website

Ø  Gathering data and validate the data from users

Ø  Selecting the information criteria for the predictor

 

Task1: Analyse the scope
Task2: Design the information architecture
Task3: Do the SWOT analysis
Task4: Develop the project ideas
Task5: Testing the results
Task6: Make the documentation
Task7: Implement the project by the deadline

7.2.     Business Case

When the user creates an account, they will enter their personal information and details about their diabetes that will assist with the prediction feature on the website. The administrators will ensure that all data kept on the server is secure; while supervisors will check that the integrity of information inputted by all users (especially blood glucose figures) is maintained. The website will be a free service and hosted on ISP server to protect the patient’s privacy. Once the data has been received, it gets automatically stored into the database system. This is so the predictions made by the system will become more accurate over time, as more information is gathered. The website will work on all browsers on any laptop, personal computer or mobile device.

Throughout the research process, we came across other social networking services that are available online that offer assistance to people suffering from chronic diseases. A similar website that already exists is PatientsLikeMe; which allows their users to post their experiences of various health conditions. One significant flaw we found was that their focus was more on tackling the symptoms of the disease, rather than ways in managing the disease better in the first place. Our website will be a place where users will be able to share their tips on dealing with diabetes, to hopefully minimise the likelihood of symptoms from developing. Also by having a points system in place, it will give people an additional incentive to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

7.3.     Recommendations

This project requires us to analyse how improvements can be made to specific healthcare services through the use of social networking tools. The main prediction feature on the website will be able to predict the person’s blood glucose level based on information inputted by the user (e.g. energy exerted, food consumed etc.). This will assist the person in managing their diabetes better, as they become more aware of how factors such as their diet and exercise regime can affect their health.

In addition to submitting a research report detailing the chronic disease we are focussing on and the social networking tools we will introduce to improve the specific healthcare service, we will also create a basic prototype. The prototype will show how the prediction feature will work:

  • The user inputting their current blood glucose level and their schedule for the day (activities);
  • The system obtaining the required information from the database; and
  • The website displaying the predicted blood glucose level as well as any additional feedback / health advice, if the figure is not within the ‘healthy range’.

These processes will be demonstrated in the final group presentation, at the end of the semester.

7.4.     Anticipated Results

First and foremost, we expect our website to be of high quality and standard. Our proposed solution has not been done before, therefore we hope it will fill a gap and contribute to existing research studies on social network analysis for healthcare services improvements. We also anticipate the results of this project will contribute knowledge and ideas to others, who can then undertake further research on the topic. Above all, we hope that our proposal will be very valuable in the industry and beneficial to the healthcare system overall and to people suffering from diabetes.

 

 

7.5.     Reporting

All group members will be in contact with each other throughout the entire project, by face-to-face meetings, by e-mail and via a Google+ group page. The employer will be notified on all major developments, if clarification is required on a particular topic or if any problems occur in writing the report. He will supply us with some high-level sample reports to assist us in structuring our report. All pieces of documentation will be uploaded to a shared INB300 Professional Practice in IT folder on Dropbox, where all group members will be able to contribute their findings. Files include:

  • The Report itself;
  • The Proposal (this document);
  • Gantt Diagram (also below) – which illustrates the project schedule for the entire semester;
  • Time Sheet and Meeting Minutes – detailing all tasks allocated;
  • Sample research papers (under a folder named Literature); and
  • Other necessary files.          

7.6.     Gantt Diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.      PROJECT OUTCOMES

The project will be completed with submission of a research report detailing findings, patterns, applications and future scope; as well as a basic prototype of the website. The report will provide thorough research and analysis of how the social networking tools proposed will improve the healthcare services for people suffering diabetes and will use an illustrative approach to ensure assumptions collected can be utilized with the best efficiency. Finally after our proposal is approved by the supervisor, modifications will be made to aim for publication in A++ certified sources.

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