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New app gives patients something to smile about

02 Dec 2019


At first glance those smiling yellow faces on your smart phone might appear whimsical however they hold an extraordinary power that is helping transform the way health care is delivered to patients.

Patients with end stage kidney disease who undertake haemodialysis treatments at home themselves can often feel isolated or anxious without the physical presence of their health care clinician.

To help patients feel better connected the power of the emoji is being harnessed in a new health app.

The ‘My Home Hemo’ application uses existing telehealth technologies to allow patients to record how they feel after their dialysis session.

“By using something as simple as emojis, patients can quickly and easily communicate with clinicians in real time about their experience and well-being,” says Head of Renal Medicine at Nepean Hospital, Associate Professor Kamal Sud.

Considered together with other routine health indicators captured during a home haemodialysis session, the use of emojis provide the clinical team a more sophisticated method of reaching out to patients at remote sites.

“We review the data which allows us to quickly make informed decisions, intervene faster if required and improve the delivery of care.”

156 patients participated in the research trial over the past three years with their comments recorded at the end of over 34,000 dialysis sessions.

Patients were found to have less anxiety when given the options to share their emotions remotely with the clinicians.

There was a correlation between negative emotions shared by patients at the end of dialysis treatments with technically troubled dialysis sessions at home. The research was published in Journal of American Medical Informatics Association in October 2019.

Work is underway to improve the app further. Researchers are hoping to detect anomalies by combining patients’ emotions with other health parameters routinely collected during a home haemodialysis session.