Appl Clin Inform 2017; 08(04): 1031-1043
DOI: 10.4338/ACI-2017-06-RA-0096
Research Article
Schattauer GmbH Stuttgart

Core Components for a Clinically Integrated mHealth App for Asthma Symptom Monitoring

Robert S. Rudin
Christopher H. Fanta
Zachary Predmore
Kevin Kron
Maria O. Edelen
Adam B. Landman
Eyal Zimlichman
David W. Bates
Further Information

Publication History

14 June 2017

30 August 2017

Publication Date:
14 December 2017 (online)


Background mHealth apps may be useful tools for supporting chronic disease management.

Objective Our aim was to apply user-centered design principles to efficiently identify core components for an mHealth-based asthma symptom–monitoring intervention using patient-reported outcomes (PROs).

Methods We iteratively combined principles of qualitative research, user-centered design, and “gamification” to understand patients' and providers' needs, develop and refine intervention components, develop prototypes, and create a usable mobile app to integrate with clinical workflows. We identified anticipated benefits and burdens for stakeholders.

Results We conducted 19 individual design sessions with nine adult patients and seven clinicians from an academic medical center (some were included multiple times). We identified four core intervention components: (1) Invitation—patients are invited by their physicians. (2) Symptom checks—patients receive weekly five-item questionnaires via the app with 48 hours to respond. Depending on symptoms, patients may be given the option to request a call from a nurse or receive one automatically. (3) Patient review—in the app, patients can view their self-reported data graphically. (4) In-person visit—physicians have access to patient-reported symptoms in the electronic health record (EHR) where they can review them before in-person visits. As there is currently no location in the EHR where physicians would consistently notice these data, recording a recent note was the best option. Benefits to patients may include helping decide when to call their provider and facilitating shared decision making. Benefits to providers may include saving time discussing symptoms. Provider organizations may need to pay nurses extra, but those costs may be offset by reduced visits and hospitalizations.

Conclusion Recent systematic reviews show inconsistent outcomes and little insight into functionalities required for mHealth asthma interventions, highlighting the need for systematic intervention design. We identified specific features for adoption and engagement that meet the stated needs of users for asthma symptom monitoring.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

This study was reviewed by RAND and Partners Healthcare Institutional Review Board.