CSIRO’s Australian eHealth Research Centre, a Joint Venture with Queensland Health, has strong capability in developing platform technologies to facilitate and enhance e-health services.

This includes the first clinically validated mobile delivery of cardiac rehabilitation services through a clinical portal, with an information, mentoring and motivational program delivered through smartphone app and health diary. This technology was later modified to address access to services in Aboriginal communities.

As part of these modifications, AEHRC consulted with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) to incorporate the views of Indigenous health providers. It was felt that a similar platform technology could augment IUIH’s Work it Out (WIO) Program, a chronic disease self-management program conducted with metropolitan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.

Since 2009, IUIH has made significant inroads into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through successful initiatives like Deadly Choices and the WIO program. The relationship that IUIH and WIO had developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in metropolitan areas facilitated CSIRO’s engagement with WIO participants to determine how the technology could meet their needs for health-related factors. Following a consultative process, the tailored platform was trialled in two locations and in two phases, with the initial phase trialling a modified health diary, and the second phase covering both the health diary and a digitised health program.

Results suggest that the technology is more appropriate for some participants than others and that participants were most interested in tracking those health measures that are directly related to the WIO program, such as blood pressure, heart rate and blood glucose. Participants reported that advantages of the health diary included a greater awareness of factors contributing to their health and the ability to show their GPs, accurate records of their health data, over specific timeframes.

By following appropriate cultural protocols that recognise the value of input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves, and working closely with health providers embedded in Indigenous community controlled health, a technology was refined that enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults to augment their existing health program to suit the needs of their chronic health journey.

Full report: Bradford, D., Basit, T., Vautin, M., Lee, N., Silvera-Tawil, D., Walker, J., Nguyen, B., Daly, C., Harrap, K., Lewry, K., Ireland, D., Hagstrom, A., Dargan, S., Nelson, A., Hansen, D. (2017) Digital technology to support the Work It Out Program. A report on the Indigenous Health Portal Project. Project ID 71075. CSIRO Report EP 176009 prepared for Queensland Health. CSIRO, Australia.

This update was kindly provided by Dana Bradford, who presented at the 2017 Developing Northern Australia Conference.