6 May 2020
telemedicine, information science, data science, COVID-19, coronavirus, public reporting of healthcare data, health care quality, access and evaluation, aged, mental health, exercise, cellphone, artificial intelligence, agile, requirements engineering, social distancing, digital health, app
Social distancing and shielding measures have been put in place to reduce social interaction and slow the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). For older people, self-isolation presents particular challenges for mental health and social relationships. As time progresses, continued social distancing could have a compounding impact on these concerns.
This project aims to provide a tool for older people and their families and peers to improve their well-being and health during and after regulated social distancing. First, we will evaluate the tool’s feasibility, acceptability, and usability to encourage positive nutrition, enhance physical activity, and enable virtual interaction while social distancing. Second, we will be implementing the app to provide an online community to assist families and peer groups in maintaining contact with older people using goal setting. Anonymized data from the app will be aggregated with other real-world data sources to develop a machine learning algorithm to improve the identification of patients with COVID-19 and track for real time use by health systems.
Development of this project is occurring at the time of publication, and therefore, a case study design was selected to provide a systematic means of capturing software engineering in progress. The app development framework for software design was based on agile methods. The evaluation of the app’s feasibility, acceptability and usability shall be conducted using Public Health England's guidance on evaluating digital health products, Bandura’s model of health promotion, the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework and the Nonadoption, Abandonment and Challenges to the Scale-up, Spread and Suitability (NASSS) framework.
Making use of a pre-existing software framework for health behavior change, a proof of concept was developed, and a multistage app development and deployment for the solution was created. Grant submissions to fund the project and study execution have been sought at the time of publication, and prediscovery iteration of the solution has begun. Ethical approval for a feasibility study design is being sought.
This case study lays the foundations for future app development to combat mental and societal issues arising from social distancing measures. The app will be tested and evaluated in future studies to allow continuous improvement of the app. This novel contribution will provide an evidence-based exemplar for future app development in the space of social isolation and loneliness.