Diabetes-Related Behavior Change Knowledge Transfer to Primary Care Practitioners and Patients: Implementation and Evaluation of a Digital Health Platform


PMID: 29669705 doi: 10.2196/medinform.9629: 10.2196/medinform.9629

JMIR Med Inform. 2018 Apr-Jun; 6(2): e25

Samina Abidi, MD, PhD, Michael Vallis, PhD, Helena Piccinini-Vallis, MD, Syed Ali Imran, MD, and Syed Sibte Raza Abidi, MSc, PhD


Background: Behavioral science is now being integrated into diabetes self-management interventions. However, the challenge that presents itself is how to translate these knowledge resources during care so that primary care practitioners can use them to offer evidence-informed behavior change support and diabetes management recommendations to patients with diabetes.

Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a computerized decision support platform called “Diabetes Web-Centric Information and Support Environment” (DWISE) that assists primary care practitioners in applying standardized behavior change strategies and clinical practice guidelines–based recommendations to an individual patient and empower the patient with the skills and knowledge required to self-manage their diabetes through planned, personalized, and pervasive behavior change strategies.

Methods: A health care knowledge management approach is used to implement DWISE so that it features the following functionalities: (1) assessment of primary care practitioners’ readiness to administer validated behavior change interventions to patients with diabetes; (2) educational support for primary care practitioners to help them offer behavior change interventions to patients; (3) access to evidence-based material, such as the Canadian Diabetes Association’s (CDA) clinical practice guidelines, to primary care practitioners; (4) development of personalized patient self-management programs to help patients with diabetes achieve healthy behaviors to meet CDA targets for managing type 2 diabetes; (5) educational support for patients to help them achieve behavior change; and (6) monitoring of the patients’ progress to assess their adherence to the behavior change program and motivating them to ensure compliance with their program. DWISE offers these functionalities through an interactive Web-based interface to primary care practitioners, whereas the patient’s self-management program and associated behavior interventions are delivered through a mobile patient diary via mobile phones and tablets. DWISE has been tested for its usability, functionality, usefulness, and acceptance through a series of qualitative studies.

Results: For the primary care practitioner tool, most usability problems were associated with the navigation of the tool and the presentation, formatting, understandability, and suitability of the content. For the patient tool, most issues were related to the tool’s screen layout, design features, understandability of the content, clarity of the labels used, and navigation across the tool. Facilitators and barriers to DWISE use in a shared decision-making environment have also been identified.

Conclusions: This work has provided a unique electronic health solution to translate complex health care knowledge in terms of easy-to-use, evidence-informed, point-of-care decision aids for primary care practitioners. Patients’ feedback is now being used to make necessary modification to DWISE.