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Digital health app for heart failure patients

Photo Credit: Flinders University

Half a million Australian adults and millions of people worldwide living with heart failure will benefit from a new app.

According to a recent press release, Australia’s Flinders University and gaming experts have partnered on a pioneering digital health app that will improve quality of life and longevity.

The Problem

Heart failure is a condition where the heart no longer pumps effectively. It is a leading cause of death affecting 38 million people worldwide.

It has multiple causes including heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol intake, and cancer treatment. There is no cure.

However, people are living longer with the condition and quality of life is heavily reliant on self-management.

Heart failure patients need to take responsibility for their self-care to a large extent. Newly diagnosed patients often leave hospital with a multitude of brochures and reading suggestions.

Unfortunately, literacy is not always high in the community. Moreover, English is not the first language for many people and the use of medical terms can be overwhelming.

Turning to technology to improve lives

Professor Robyn Clark, from the University, and her team turned to technology to overcome these barriers.

They enlisted the expertise of a game and digital content creator company to develop ‘Fluid Watchers’.

This is a mobile device app framed on robust medical research and designed to engage people from all backgrounds and cultures, and influence their behaviour.

According to the company’s Director, the best way for information to stick is to illicit some kind of emotional response from the audience.

Animation and games for entertainment is a skillset that is transferable to so many industries like arts and entertainment, defence, construction, and health.

It is the intersection among art, technology and science where there is real room for innovation and huge opportunities that can have meaningful impact for audiences.

How does it work?

In the Fluid Watchers app, ‘Bob’ or ‘Mary’, which are customisable avatars, guides and quizzes the user as they progress through the app and build their game score.

The digital platform enables ease of translation into multiple languages.

This is different from other health apps because of its foundation in medical theory and the input of patients.

Patients have provided great ideas and feedback, while the gaming experts provided the critical element of fun, which is often missing from medical communications, and have taught so much about engagement.

The name of the app came from the importance of heart failure patients to manage and monitor their fluid levels.

Hopefully, the app will be available to the community in 2020.

The Flinders University Fluid Watchers project was made possible through several grants and a Khon Kaen University scholarship in Thailand.


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