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Telemed J E Health. 2013 Jan;19(1):13-8. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2012.0020. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Challenges of a mobile application for asthma and allergic rhinitis patient enablement-interface and synchronization.

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Center for Research in Health Information Systems and Technologies, Porto, Portugal.



Asthma and allergic rhinitis (ARA) are common inflammatory diseases of the airways. Enhancement of a patient's participation on clinical decisions is related to better results in control of diseases. To control ARA, patients should monitor their symptoms, avoid triggers, and follow their treatment plan. This study described the challenges of developing a mobile application, called m.Carat, that records the main events related to ARA.


The mobile application m.Carat was developed for Android™ (Google, Mountain View, CA) and iPhone(®) (Apple, San Jose, CA) smartphones. It was developed using PhoneGap, which allows the development of applications for several mobile operating systems. To generate the user interface, jQuery Mobile, HTML, Javascript, and CSS were used. Despite the use of mobile development frameworks, some input and output elements had to be improved. To evaluate the interface, a pilot study was performed with eight users who performed 10 different tasks in the application. To synchronize m.Carat with an online database, an algorithm was developed from scratch. This feature represents a major challenge because all the changes must be reflected in all devices.


Currently m.Carat is a mobile application where ARA patients fill out a questionnaire to assess the degree of control of ARA and record their exacerbations, triggers, symptoms, medications, lung function tests, and visits to the doctor or the hospital. They also can receive information and news about ARA, define medication and tasks notifications, and synchronize all records at with an online database. The evaluation showed some of the adopted solutions to improve interface usability did not work as expected. Of the 80 total tasks tested the users had no difficulty in 37(46%). Most of the problems observed were easily solved.


m.Carat is a mobile application for ARA that may contribute to patient enablement. The development of m.Carat suggests that mobile applications may introduce specific challenges that need new solutions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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