Opportunities to Improve a Mobile Obesity Wellness Intervention for Rural Older Adults with Obesity

A qualitative study to determine whether mHealth devices, like Amulet, could be useful in supporting rural-health interventions.

  • John Batsis, Stephen Bartels, Rachel Dokko, Alexandra Zagaria, John Naslund, Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, and David Kotz. Opportunities to Improve a Mobile Obesity Wellness Intervention for Rural Older Adults with Obesity. Journal of Community Health, September 2019. DOI 10.1007/s10900-019-00720-y.

Abstract: Older adults with obesity are at a high risk of decline, particularly in rural areas. Our study objective was to gain insights into how a potential Mobile Health Obesity Wellness Intervention (MOWI) in rural older adults with obesity, consisting of nutrition and exercise sessions, could be helpful to improve physical function. A qualitative methods study was conducted in a rural community, community-based aging center. Four community leaders, 7 clinicians and 29 patient participants underwent focus groups and semi-structured interviews. All participants had a favorable view of MOWI and saw its potential to improve health and create accountability. Participants noted that MOWI could overcome geographic barriers and provided feedback about components that could improve implementation. There was expressed enthusiasm over its potential to improve health. The use of technology in older adults with obesity in rural areas has considerable promise. There is potential that this intervention could potentially extend to distant areas in rural America that can surmount accessibility barriers. If successful, this intervention could potentially alter healthcare delivery by enhancing health promotion in a remote, geographically constrained communities. MOWI has the potential to reach older adults with obesity using novel methods in geographically isolated regions.

Development and Usability Assessment of a Connected Resistance Exercise Band Application for Strength-Monitoring

Another recent paper from John Batsis and the Amulet group, highlighting a custom sensor developed by our team and presented at the International Conference on Body Area Networks (ICBAN):

  • John A. Batsis, George G. Boateng, Lillian M. Seo, Curtis L. Petersen, Karen L. Fortuna, Emily V. Wechsler, Ronald J. Peterson, Summer B. Cook, Dawna Pidgeon, Rachel S. Dokko, Ryan J. Halter, and David F. Kotz. Development and Usability Assessment of a Connected Resistance Exercise Band Application for Strength-Monitoring. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 13(5):340-348, June 2019. DOI 10.5281/zenodo.

Abstract: Resistance exercise bands are a core component of any physical activity strengthening program. Strength training can mitigate the development of sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass or strength and function with aging. Yet, the adherence of such behavioral exercise strategies in a home-based setting is fraught with issues of monitoring and compliance. Our group developed a Bluetooth-enabled resistance exercise band capable of transmitting data to an open-source platform. In this work, we developed an application to capture this information in real-time and conducted three usability studies in two mixed-aged groups of participants (n=6 each) and a group of older adults with obesity participating in a weight-loss intervention (n=20). The system was favorable, acceptable and provided iterative information that could assist in future deployment on ubiquitous platforms. Our formative work provides the foundation to deliver home-based monitoring interventions in a high-risk, older adult population.

Usability evaluation for the Amulet wearable device in rural older adults with obesity

The following paper dates to last year, but is an important publication from the Amulet group:

  • John A. Batsis, Alexandra Zagaria, David F. Kotz, Stephen J. Bartels, George G. Boateng, Patrick O. Proctor, Ryan J. Halter, and Elizabeth A. Carpenter-Song. Usability evaluation for the Amulet wearable device in rural older adults with obesity. Gerontechnology, 17(3):151-159, 2018. DOI 10.4017/gt.2018.17.3.003.00.

Abstract: Mobile health (mHealth) interventions hold the promise of augmenting existing health promotion interventions. Older adults present unique challenges in advancing new models of health promotion using technology including sensory limitations and less experience with mHealth, underscoring the need for specialized usability testing. We use an open-source mHealth device as a case example for its integration in a newly designed health services intervention. We performed a convergent, parallel mixed-methods study including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires, using purposive sampling of 29 older adults, 4 community leaders, and 7 clinicians in a rural setting. We transcribed the data, developed codes informed by thematic analysis using inductive and deductive methods, and assessed the quantitative data using descriptive statistics. Our results suggest the importance of end-users in user-centered design of mHealth devices and that aesthetics are critically important. The prototype could potentially be feasibly integrated within health behavior interventions. Centralized dashboards were desired by all participants and ecological momentary assessment could be an important part of monitoring. Concerns of mHealth, including the prototype device, include the device’s accuracy, its intrusiveness in daily life and privacy. Formative evaluations are critically important prior to deploying large-scale interventions.

Amulet: Design, Development and Evaluation of a Wearable Device for mHealth Applications

Today we presented an “Experience” paper at ACM MobiCom, summarizing the technology, the studies, and the challenges and lessons learned over seven years of research.

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George Boateng, Vivian Genaro Motti, Varun Mishra, John A. Batsis, Josiah Hester, and David Kotz. Experience: Design, Development and Evaluation of a Wearable Device for mHealth Applications. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom), October 2019. DOI 10.1145/3300061.3345432.

Abstract: Wrist-worn devices hold great potential as a platform for mobile health (mHealth) applications because they comprise a familiar, convenient form factor and can embed sensors in proximity to the human body. Despite this potential, however, they are severely limited in battery life, storage, bandwidth, computing power, and screen size. In this paper, we describe the experience of the research and development team designing, implementing and evaluating Amulet? an open-hardware, open-software wrist-worn computing device? and its experience using Amulet to deploy mHealth apps in the field. In the past five years the team conducted 11 studies in the lab and in the field, involving 204 participants and collecting over 77,780 hours of sensor data. We describe the technical issues the team encountered and the lessons they learned, and conclude with a set of recommendations. We anticipate the experience described herein will be useful for the development of other research-oriented computing platforms. It should also be useful for researchers interested in developing and deploying mHealth applications, whether with the Amulet system or with other wearable platforms.

Use of Amulet in behavioral change for geriatric obesity management

John Batsis and the Amulet team just published a paper regarding Use of Amulet in behavioral change for geriatric obesity management.

Background: Obesity in older adults is a significant public health concern. Weight-loss interventions are known to improve physical function but risk the development of sarcopenia. Mobile health devices have the potential to augment existing interventions and, if designed accordingly, could improve one’s physical activity and strength in routine physical activity interventions. Methods and results: We present Amulet, a mobile health device that has the capability of engaging patients in physical activity. The purpose of this article is to discuss the development of applications that are tailored to older adults with obesity, with the intention to engage and improve their health. Conclusions: Using a team-science approach, Amulet has the potential, as an open-source mobile health device, to tailor activity interventions to older adults.

John A. Batsis, Alexandra B. Zagaria, Ryan J. Halter, George G. Boateng, Patrick Proctor, Stephen J. Bartels, and David Kotz. Use of Amulet in behavioral change for geriatric obesity management. Journal of Digital Health, 5, June 2019. DOI 10.1177/2055207619858564.

Secure sharing of mHealth data

Emily Greene, Patrick Proctor, and David Kotz recently published a paper titled Secure Sharing of mHealth Data Streams through Cryptographically-Enforced Access Control:

Abstract:  Owners of mobile-health apps and devices often want to share their mHealth data with others, such as physicians, therapists, coaches, and caregivers. For privacy reasons, however, they typically want to share a limited subset of their information with each recipient according to their preferences. In this paper, we introduce ShareHealth, a scalable, usable, and practical system that allows mHealth-data owners to specify access-control policies and to cryptographically enforce those policies so that only parties with the proper corresponding permissions are able to decrypt data. The design and prototype implementation of this system make three contributions: (1) they apply cryptographically-enforced access-control measures to stream-based (specifically mHealth) data, (2) they recognize the temporal nature of mHealth data streams and support revocation of access to part or all of a data stream, and (3) they depart from the vendor- and device-specific silos of mHealth data by implementing a secure end-to-end system that can be applied to data collected from a variety of mHealth apps and devices.

Journal of Smart Health, 12:49-65, April 2019. DOI 10.1016/j.smhl.2018.01.003.

Amulet: an open-source wrist-worn platform for mHealth research and education

David Kotz recently presented a paper titled Amulet: an open-source wrist-worn platform for mHealth research and education.

Abstract: The advent of mobile and wearable computing technology has opened up tremendous opportunities for health and wellness applications. It is increasingly possible for individuals to wear devices that can sense their physiology or health-related behaviors, collecting valuable data in support of diagnosis, treatment, public health, or other applications. From a researcher’s point of view, the commercial availability of these “mHealth” devices has made it feasible to conduct scientific studies of health conditions and to explore health-related interventions. It remains difficult, however, to conduct systems work or other experimental research involving the hardware, software, security, and networking aspects of mobile and wearable technology. In this paper we describe the Amulet platform, an open-hardware, open-software wrist-worn computing device designed specifically for mHealth applications. Our position is that the Amulet is an inexpensive platform for research and education, and we encourage the mHealth community to explore its potential.

In Workshop on Networked Healthcare Technology (NetHealth), pages 891-897, January 2019. IEEE Computer Society Press.

DOI 10.1109/COMSNETS.2019.8711407.

Technology for Behavioral Change in Rural Older Adults with Obesity

A new paper from the extended Amulet group.

John A. Batsis, John A. Naslund, Alexandra B. Zagaria, David Kotz, Rachel Dokko, Stephen J. Bartels & Elizabeth Carpenter-Song. Technology for Behavioral Change in Rural Older Adults with ObesityJournal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, April 2019.DOI: 10.1080/21551197.2019.1600097

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