A peer reviewed paper by DanaKai Bradford, Australian eHealth Research Centre, CSIRO, Brisbane
Indigenous health providers are best placed to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Since 2009, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) have made significant inroads into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through successful initiatives like Deadly Choices and the Work It Out program. At the same time, CSIRO’s eHealth Research Centre has been developing platform technologies to broaden accessibility to health programs and enhance health autonomy.
In 2015, IUIH and CSIRO formed a collaboration to co-develop a platform technology to deliver a digital program for health and chronic disease self-management through the existing Work It Out program. The relationship IUIH has developed over several years with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in metropolitan areas facilitated CSIRO engagement with Work It Out participants to determine how the technology could meet their needs for tracking health related factors. Concurrent with the engagement, staff from CSIRO and IUIH met to determine which aspects of the paper-based Work It Out program material could be made digital. Following this consultative process, the tailored technology was trialled in two Work It Out locations, in two phases, with the initial phase trialling health measure tracking and the second phase covering both health measure tracking and the digital education program.
Results from the preliminary trial suggest that the technology is more appropriate for some locations than others, and that participants are most interested in tracking those health measures that are directly related to the Work It Out program, such as blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. 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. This project has demonstrated that ehealth technology can be used to augment existing Indigenous health projects.