ACHIEVETOGETHER.COM: DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION OF A WEB 2.0 APPLICATION FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND DIABETES PREVENTION

Open Access
Author:
Ramaswamy, Dheepak
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
December 01, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Dr Madhu Reddy, Thesis Advisor
  • John Metzner, Thesis Advisor
  • Bernard James Jansen, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • diabetes
  • weightloss
  • hershey medical center
  • web 2.0
  • achievetogether
  • obesity
  • drupal
  • achievetogether.com
Abstract:
Medicine 2.0 applications, services and tools are defined as “Web-based services for health care consumers, caregivers, patients, health professionals, and biomedical researchers, which use Web 2.0 technologies such as AJAX, Open APIs, RSS, Wikis and Social Software to enable and facilitate specifically social networking, participation, mediation, collaboration, and openness within and between these user groups.”[1] The purpose of this research is to identify the requirements and design a medicine 2.0 internet application that helps patients address their weight loss issues and evaluate its usability. The research was done in two phases. First I used Drupal – an open source content management system [2] that embodies features of a people-centric social web to create a new flexible and modular framework to satisfy requirements of a web based weight loss research study, address the usability concerns of existing web based weight loss solutions, incorporate collaborative and interactive features and serve as a data gathering tool while acting as a base for future online health projects. Next a user study was conducted where user behavior was observed, feedback was obtained and user logs were analyzed using quantitative methods in an attempt to understand the "architecture of participation" and the impact of rich user experiences in online wellness programs. Throughout the iterative design process that I employed to create the framework, I was able to identify common themes that users expect from an effective web based tool for weight loss. Many features in Drupal especially the messaging, blog, video, notifications, content updates and dashboard modules played an important role in enhancing the interactive user experience which was found to be as important as the quality and source of content for the users. I also identified a number of unexpected challenges that were both technical and social in nature and have attempted to create a future roadmap for creating successful web based applications to combat obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle.