Mapping user needs to smartphone services for persons with chronic disease

N Armstrong, CD Nugent, G Moore, D Finlay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Studies have shown that within today’s society the number of old and very old people is increasing along with the average life expectancy. Worldwide, there are currently 650 million older people and this figure is expected to reach 2 billion by the year 2050 [1]. As trends in life expectancy increase, the number of age related impairments and chronic disease within the older population is expected to rise. Based on these figures it seems necessary that efforts should be made in order to alleviate some of the problems associated with old age and chronic disease. One potential solution to this problem is the use of Information and Communication Technologies in the form of a mobile Smartphone. Fifty percent of the world’s population owned a mobile phone in 2008 [2], a figure which is likely to rise in years to come. Highly developed mobile phone handsets, often referred to as Smartphone’s, now offer advanced capabilities and provide the potential for explicit and implicit interactions using buttons, touch screens, motion sensing and voice recognition. This alongside high degrees of connectivity supports handsets to capture, analyze and distribute large amounts of data securely across great distances. A major benefit of Smartphone’s is their ability to connect and interact with other devices through wireless communications along with supporting a variety of software applications. Therefore, considering the opportunities provided by this broadening of the modes of interaction, functionality and the connected nature of mobile phones a more clinically valid approach to Smartphone technology is being investigaed. In order to identify and alleviate some of the problems associated with chronic disease it was decided to use a problem solving approach of mapping user needs with mobile phone technology. This approach combined the mapping of chronic disease patient symptoms to a potential mobile phone application that may help effectively manage this disease. Using this methodology, four common chronic illnesses spanning both physical and cognitive domains were investigated. From this Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was identified for further study due to its increased prevalence later in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke [3]. Worldwide more than 26 million people have AD [4], a dementing disorder, characterized by cognitive and behavioral decline. It involves the damage and death of brain cells and the breakdown of their connections which impact on memory, thought and language [5]. The needs of people with AD will vary depending on which stage of the disease they are experiencing. These needs range from memory support in mild dementia to support in almost all aspects of daily functioning in severe cases of the disease [6]. Currently within the market today there are a variety of assistive technologies that aim to help assist AD patients on a daily basis. Nevertheless, to date no approaches or devices have been produced that fully realize the potential of Smartphone’s for assisting AD patients. Having performed this mapping process for AD, a number of possible mobile phone solutions were identified to help assist AD patients on a daily basis. These solutions include a memory aid, an activity monitor and activity assistance to name but a few. In order to investigate this concept further the following methodology has been developed to identify the needs of older people living independently with AD and to alleviate some of these problems using services deployed through mobile phone technology. This methodology is presented in Figure 1. Figure 1: Steps involved in project methodology In summary, as trends in life expectancy rise, the increase in age related impairments and chronic disease will also grow. While for some of these conditions there is no cure, with the help of assistive technology, diseases such as AD may be effectively managed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Apr 2009
Eventthe Northern Ireland Biomedical Engineering Society - Belfast
Duration: 1 Apr 2009 → …


Conferencethe Northern Ireland Biomedical Engineering Society
Period1/04/09 → …


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