Mobile game app warns of heart disease

Flinders University

Thursday, 26 May, 2016

Mobile game app warns of heart disease

A new and innovative mobile app is being developed to encourage a better understanding of the warning signs and appropriate response to heart attacks, targeted at all audiences — including older and migrant groups, and people with low literacy.

The Flinders University School of Nursing and Midwifery ‘game’, to be accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, is designed to improve potential patients’ knowledge and responses to acute heart disease symptoms (eg, arm and chest pain, nausea or shortness of breath) through a series of easy-to-follow instructions.

The avatar-based app using a computerised ‘nurse’ called Cora, developed by SA animation studio Monkeystack, is an example of the ‘gamification’ of healthcare education to more effectively teach people about what to look for and what actions to take in the event of a heart attack. The app was developed in response to numerous studies that show how information technology plays an important role in improving patients’ knowledge and self-management ability.

According to Flinders University Professor Robyn Clark, more community awareness is needed about cardiovascular disease — the single largest killer of Australians — especially since heart attack patients can have up to a 50% chance of experiencing a second event.

“Retention of information is far greater with an interactive app than with a printed brochure, and by using the app we hope to improve knowledge, responses and ultimately save lives,” said Professor Clark.

“As well, this app paves the way to an exciting future where we can provide ever more flexible and effective ways to deliver essential education to our patients, including the reported 47% of Australians suffering from functional illiteracy. We are also working on other creative ways to communicate more successfully with people from Indigenous and migrant groups in Australia.”

Following a successful pilot, the app is now being tested in clinical trials at the Flinders Medical Centre with a full rollout planned for 2017.

A six-month trial in 2015 resulted in the majority of participants reporting a high level of satisfaction with the app (87.3%), saying it taught them how to recognise and respond to symptoms of heart attack. Their knowledge increased by more than 15% and symptom recognition increased by over 24%.

Justin Wight, director of online content developer Monkeystack, said that the animation and the games industry had matured and established wide acceptance in the entertainment-education space.

“By gamifying a complex issue, we’ve been able to develop the app from concept to completion for Flinders School of Nursing and Midwifery. It provides the perfect education — the avatar won’t forget anything — and it can work hand in hand with nurses.”

The app is designed in such a way as to suit every generation, including the elderly, so they can easily follow and interpret the information, Wight added.

Image courtesy of Flinders University.

Originally published here.

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