INDIANAPOLIS — A media arts and science team at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has developed a mobile medical media application offering a more effective way for physicians to present patients with information in a global health care setting.
The Shahidi app, which couples media technology with mobile technology, is currently being tested. It will initially be used to present health care media as part of the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare partnership in Kenya. The app was created for AMPATH, a consortium of 11 North American academic health centers led by Indiana University School of Medicine, that partners with Moi University School of Medicine to create a model health care system in Kenya.
“Shahidi enables health providers to do a keyword search in a management mode where they can download and select media they want to show patients,” said Thomas Lewis, a lecturer in the media arts and science program in the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. Providers can then send the selected media to a patient section of the app, where it can be viewed by patients while maintaining the security of any sensitive data on the device.
To develop Shahidi — which means “witness” in Swahili — Lewis said the team looked at how a mobile device would be used within the doctor/patient context, specifically the various functions associated with a provider selecting media to be viewed and a patient viewing that media.
“We thought about that as we structured the logic of the application,” Lewis said. “And we wanted to keep it very clean and simple so that users would get that logic immediately.
“One objective is to provide consistent, useful health information, no matter which type of health care provider is caring for a patient,” Lewis said. “This app standardizes the medical information being presented and uses media to better engage with patients.”
Lewis partnered with Todd Shelton, another media arts and science lecturer, and Mike Lulgjuraj, a School of Informatics and Computing staff member, to develop Shahidi.
Lewis began to work with the IU School of Medicine around media technology for health care in resource-limited settings through a 2012 IU International Development Fund grant. He collaborated with Dr. Rachel Vreeman, director of research for the IU Center for Global Health, and her team in Kenya to create story-based videos as part of a package of resources to support families informing children of their HIV status.
The video resources are now being evaluated across eight of AMPATH’s largest pediatric HIV clinics in Kenya as part of a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial called Helping AMPATH Disclose Information and Talk about HIV Infection. After AMPATH and HADITHI received a donation of Nexus Tablets from Google, Lewis further adapted the videos to be shown by counselors in their interactions with caregivers and children.
“I developed an application for the videos so they would be contextualized,” Lewis said. “We created a delivery system so that the themes and relevant counseling materials would be intuitive and easy for the counselors to access and use with families, even with limited training.”
That work caught the attention of Dr. Martin Were, another IU School of Medicine physician and AMPATH’s chief medical information officer. Were then asked Lewis to develop a mobile medical media application that could be used more generally by health professionals and patients as part of a larger mobile health project, “Mobile Technology for Life.” Called mUzima, the project aims to provide generalizable mobile-device solutions for use within resource-limited settings. MUzima currently includes functionality for data collection, historical data retrieval and mobile teleconsultation.
The Shahidi application developed by Lewis, Shelton and Lulgjuraj works seamlessly as part of the mUzima application and can be used with Android smartphones or tablets. Shahidi can play media used by this innovative health care system for patients in Kenya and other places. Media types supported include videos, PDF’s, images and audio.
In the future, the app could be enhanced so it will maintain a record of what media patients have viewed and suggest media playlists based on patient responses to various medical questions. But the app could offer a new instructional approach to fields beyond health care. “I think we’re just beginning to see the start of something here,” Lewis said.
“Demonstrations that visually present information or explain aspects of health care can be far more effective than trying to explain something verbally,” Lewis said. “Video technology has been around for a long time, but when it is coupled with mobile technology, we see the dawning of exciting new ways to present visual information in any context.”