Testing the Feasibility and Usability of a Novel Smartphone-Based Self-Management Support System for Dialysis Patients: A Pilot Study

JMIR Res Protoc. 2017 Apr 20;6(4):e63. doi: 10.2196/resprot.7105.


Background: Diet and fluid restrictions that need continuous self-management are among the most difficult aspects of dialysis treatment. Smartphone applications may be useful for supporting self-management.

Objective: Our objective is to investigate the feasibility and usability of a novel smartphone-based self-management support system for dialysis patients.

Methods: We developed the Self-Management and Recording System for Dialysis (SMART-D), which supports self-monitoring of three mortality-related factors that can be modified by lifestyle: interdialytic weight gain and predialysis serum potassium and phosphorus concentrations. Data is displayed graphically, with all data evaluated automatically to determine whether they achieve the values suggested by the Japanese Society for Dialysis Therapy guidelines. In a pilot study, 9 dialysis patients used SMART-D system for 2 weeks. A total of 7 of them completed questionnaires rating their assessment of SMART-D's usability and their satisfaction with the system. In addition, the Kidney Disease Quality of Life scale was compared before and after the study period.

Results: All 9 participants were able to use SMART-D with no major problems. Completion rates for body weight, pre- and postdialysis weight, and serum potassium and phosphorus concentrations were, respectively, 89% (SD 23), 95% (SD 7), and 78% (SD 44). Of the 7 participants who completed the usability survey, all were motivated by the sense of security derived from using the system, and 6 of the 7 (86%) reported that using SMART-D helped improve their lifestyle and self-management.

Conclusions: Using SMART-D was feasible, and the system was well regarded by patients. Further study with larger scale cohorts and longer study and follow-up periods is needed to evaluate the effects of SMART-D on clinical outcomes and quality of life.

Keywords: hemodialysis; mobile phone app; self-management; telemedicine.