My Crohn’s disease on real-time information -: User experience improvement through cross-platform applications

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Reducing hospital institutionalization of citizen with chronic diseases is a major priority of western countries priorities. The more complex the health condition, the harder it is to coordinate clinical care. To improve the disease management and control, most patients need to use mobile applications that are available in online stores or web services because of the difficulty that a personal mobile phone has to get real time access to clinical data outside of a hospital. In terms of IBD - Inflammatory Bowel Disease - existing mobile phone solutions are very complex, because visually the interfaces communicates with the user through inadequate use of symbols in clinical features, which are inconsistent and have poor legibility. They also presents a lack of visual optimization between multiplatform systems. This increases the user's learning curve in terms of how to interpret and interact with these systems, generating an opportunity for these patients with abilities to innovate through the creation and development of solutions that solve their own problems related to the management and coordination of the disease. This thesis aims to analysis IBD patients behaviour related to disease management, identify the type of problems, both functional and communication, which occur in existing IBD m-Health and e-Health systems, and introduces two topics – communication and design studies – in the "User Innovator" model of Von Hippel (1976) which consists of users, that are, for example, patients with chronic diseases, and who innovate by creating solutions to solve personal problems because of unfavourable healthcare conditions. To validate in the design process the three perspectives – design, innovation and patient – were considered, and the framework “Human-social Interaction Model for e-Health Interfaces” was created, enabling a sustainable approach to research, with inputs from personal experience being used, introducing relevant feedback for the final goal of the preliminary studies, when creating the interface for mobile phone application particularly for Crohn’s disease, one of the IBD, with a new healthcare user experience. To reach the objective, a set of studies were conducted that were divided into two stages. The first, a literature review of the relationship between semiotics and interactive communication; the meaning of symbolic representation in interactive projects; new design research guidelines that define interfaces and features and that are more approachable for users; user perspectives towards technology for health supporting and controlling; the design and communication space on technological projects; the challenge for users/ patients who try to create systems to solve personal problems. The second part, presents the practical research that includes a survey of 279 participants with IBD; the empirical analysis of six case studies – mobile applications and multiplatform: context, features, design principles lifting, and usability testing A/B with the design features and principles of design on two of the six systems being compared. The results from the thesis challenge the concepts of mobile interface usability in health, providing users with a structured interpretation of medical information design and a guideline for designers with chronic diseases that would like to create solutions to monitor health problems.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
  • Simões, Graça, Supervisor
  • Romão, Teresa Isabel Lopes, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date21 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2018


  • e-Health
  • Human-Social Interaction
  • Interaction Design
  • Interface Design
  • m-Health
  • User Innovator


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