Software engineering of a digital health platform to engage the effects of isolation caused by social distancing: A case study (Preprint)
Meinert E., Milne-Ives M., Surodina S., Lam C.
<sec> <title>BACKGROUND</title> <p>Social distancing measures have been put in place to reduce social interaction to slow transmission of coronavirus (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.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>OBJECTIVE</title> <p>We propose a digital health app to provide a means of assisting families and peer groups in maintaining contact with older people using goal setting and online communities to encourage positive nutrition, physical activity and virtual interaction during social-distancing. Anonymised data from the app will be aggregated with other real-world data sources to develop a machine-learning algorithm with the objective of improving COVID-19 patient identification and tracking for real-time use by health systems. This paper reports on the in-progress development of a mobile digital health app and linked analytics reporting engine. The app will provide older people and their families with a structured medium for social interaction, while anonymised data from these applications will provide data sources on potential cases which can be used by a reporting engine to anticipate hospital demand. Both technologies are based on pre-existing frameworks that will be modified for this use case, allowing for rapid application development and deployment for immediate impact.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>METHODS</title> <p>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. To mitigate potential issues of non-adoption of the proposed intervention, the system was designed using the non-adoption, abandonment, scale-up, spread and sustainability (NASSS) framework. The software engineering application development framework utilised was based on Agile methods.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>RESULTS</title> <p>Planning for application development is complete and grant submissions for funding of this project are in-progress. Ethical approval for study design is being sought.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CONCLUSIONS</title> <p>This case study lays 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.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CLINICALTRIAL</title> <p>N/A</p> </sec>