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					HealthTrak – Online Monitoring System




          Jesus Alvarez and Natalie Paul
            21W.785 Written Proposal
                    Fall 2004
             You-prescribe@mit.edu
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Abstract
       The consequences of an unhealthy life style can lead to serious problems and disease like
diabetes. People with diabetes should record daily measurements such as blood sugar level and
their eating and exercise habits. Oftentimes, this is not the case and some diabetics do not keep
consistent records to bring to their doctors. Systematic recording keeping would promote
organization, could motivate healthier living and facilitate doctor visits. HealthTrak is a
proposed website where a diabetic patient could log in and keep a log of their glucose readings,
food intake, and exercise habits. With these values, doctors could have an easier time
introducing treatment plans. The HealthTrak website is designed PHP and runs on a reliable
Apache server. On the website, a patient will be able to post messages to their doctor, in a secure
environment, and the doctor would be able to reply. Resources on the site such as articles on
nutrition, exercise and facts about diabetes are open to the general public to encourage awareness
of healthy living. The concept behind HealthTrak has the potential to help many individuals
suffering from the symptoms and effects of diabetes.
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Table of Contents
1. Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 4
1.1 Motivation ................................................................................................................................. 4
1.2 Objectives ................................................................................................................................. 5
2. Website Plan ............................................................................................................................... 6
2.1 Functionality ............................................................................................................................. 6
       A. Security .............................................................................................................................. 6
       B. Layout................................................................................................................................. 6
       C. Navigation .......................................................................................................................... 7
2.2 Design Goals ............................................................................................................................. 8
       A. Simplicity: .......................................................................................................................... 8
       B. Consistency: ....................................................................................................................... 8
       C. Maintainability: .................................................................................................................. 8
2.3 Site Organization ...................................................................................................................... 9
       Site Map .................................................................................................................................. 9
2.4 Applied Technologies ............................................................................................................. 10
3 Project Expectations and Work Plan.......................................................................................... 11
3.1 Timeline .................................................................................................................................. 11
3.2 Advantages of HealthTrak ...................................................................................................... 11
       Improved Doctor/Patient Interaction .................................................................................... 11
       Patient Goal Tracking ........................................................................................................... 12
       Education .............................................................................................................................. 12
3.3 Group Members and Roles ..................................................................................................... 12
       Jesús Alvarez ........................................................................................................................ 12
       Natalie Paul ........................................................................................................................... 12
3.4 Goals for the semester ............................................................................................................. 13
4 References .................................................................................................................................. 14
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1. Introduction
1.1 Motivation

           Millions of people suffer from diabetes. Diabetes comes in two forms, type 1 where from
childhood, the body lacks insulin and type 2 which onsets in adulthood and where the body
begins to be unresponsive to insulin. Therefore, one must take responsibility in managing
controllable factors such as weight, exercise and food intake, especially young people. These
days, fast food and inactivity are, in a sense, promoting diabetes. Food is a major factor in the
body’s reaction to insulin and eating unhealthy foods will exacerbate all the symptoms and
effects of diabetes. Failure to keep track and maintain healthy habits can lead to serious
complication such as blindness, kidney disease, and in extreme cases, amputations. Doctors
need reliable information from diabetic patients about their lifestyles in order to provide the best
care.


           At times, it is difficult for a doctor to gather together information from patients such as
average glucose reading over time. The inconsistency of patients’ self records causes problems
for both parties. A doctor needs as much information about a patient’s health as soon as possible
to avoid and treat any complications that may occur. Eating habits, exercise and glucose
readings can be difficult for the patient to keep track of in a systematic fashion, also. Paper files
can get lost, damaged, or are illegible. In addition, because the average glucose monitor cannot
save readings, there is a need for an easy to use record keeping system for diabetics.


           HealthTrak would be a website that would aid diabetics in logging their daily activity. It
would also be available to health conscious individuals who would like to use the resources that
would be available on the HealthTrak site. Young people with diabetes are a special target
audience. Teens and young adults ages 13 to 24 now spend more time per week on the web
(16.7 hours) than ever before.1 Since teens are still young and spend that amount of time on the
internet, it would be easier for them to begin and keep the habit of logging in their health habits


1
    http://www.nutball.com/blog/archives/004491.html
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everyday, as opposed to older users who do not have the same proclivity for the computer.
Overall, it would be ideal for users of all ages to login daily and update their information.




1.2 Objectives

       The objectives of the HealthTrak website revolve around encouraging users of the
website to stay on top in healthy living. HealthTrak would allow patients to record health habits
such as food intake, exercise and glucose readings, facilitate visits and phone calls of patients
and doctors, provide information about diabetes and healthy living to all users, and promote daily
activity and direction for health conscious people and diabetics especially.


       Keeping an online log could benefit users in a number of ways. For instance, the
HealthTrak logs would accessible from any computer station with an internet connection or
could be printed and stored in files. Online logs as can not be damaged in the same manner as a
paper log that can be destroyed by spills, accidental shredding or just lost by the writer of the log.
Also, because the logs run on the website, the users do not have to be afraid of deleting the
program or any erasing of the hard drive which could happen with other log software
downloaded onto the computer.


       Moreover, patient check ups and phone calls to the doctor would be more efficient with a
website of a patient’s information available to the doctor. Upon arrival in person or a call of the
patient, the doctor could quickly upload the information and make recommendations or adjust
treatment plans. In addition, the structure and format of the logs permit easy transfer of data. For
example, a patient or a doctor could cut and paste the information into another program like
Excel and plot values such as average glucose level over time and other important statistics.


       Furthermore, the data that HealthTrak would provide could increase awareness and
knowledge about diabetes and healthy living. The website would include articles about food,
exercise, and diabetes related topics. A food pyramid and a video clip of the interaction between
glucose and insulin in the body would also be available. The main objective of HealthTrak is to
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have users set a health goal like losing weight, gauge where they are in terms of their goal, and to
determine the steps to reach their goal.



2. Website Plan

2.1 Functionality
A. Security

       The primary purpose of HealthTrak is to help people with diabetes to keep track of their
food and exercise habits. All health data is considered private and must be handled in a secure
manner. To be consistent with privacy regulations, no patient data would be public and only the
patient and his or her doctor would be able to access it. A secure login form would require a
username and password prior to presenting any data on a page. The username of the visitor
would be his email address and the password would be chosen at the time of registration. Having
the email address as username would prevent the patient from easily forgetting it. Visitors would
not be able to access data by entering a URL directly and skipping the login screen. Patients
would need to login to submit their information and view their profiles. Doctors would also need
to login with their own username and password to view their patient’s accounts. Only a patient’s
doctor would be able to see the records or information they have entered.



B. Layout

       The site layout is an important factor in making the user comfortable visiting and, most
importantly, revisiting the site. When users are bombarded with many images or moving objects,
they can be distracted from the main purpose of the page or, even worse, from finding what they
are looking for. A simple layout with efficient use of graphics can make the visitor much more
productive [Nielsen-1]. Since less than 30% of households use broadband connections [PDS-1],
use of graphics would be moderate to make site load quickly even with 56K modems.


       Areas of the site would be organized according to function. New users would go to the
registration page. Registered patients that want to see their profiles can directly select “Patient
                                                                                                      7


Login.” Doctors can check their patients’ data after making a “Doctor Login.” Visitors can read
more about the project by selecting “About us.” Comments or feedback can be posted on the
“Contact us” area. The layout organizes the functions in a logical manner and prevents web site
visitors from getting lost or not finding what they want.




                                    Figure 1 HealthTrak Main Page

C. Navigation

       On all HealthTrak pages frequently used pages would be visible on a menu on the left
side of their screen. This allows the patient to navigate through the site without extensive
training. The goal is to allow patients to easily find the areas they need to visit and not get lost on
the site. The menu would also be available on the bottom of the page. If the user scrolls down
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when reading a long article or report he would be able use the bottom menu to navigate without
scrolling up again. Figure 1 shows the menus within the general screen layout. The home page
would display the latest news or information articles.




2.2 Design Goals

        Three important design goals in the HealthTrak website are simplicity, consistency and
maintainability.


        A. Simplicity: Visitors should easily locate what they are looking for in the site
without reading a manual. The site uses shades of blue that are easy on the eyes and contrast well
with white lettering. Using a rainbow of colors could confuse users and would not add any
purpose or functionality in the site. Blue is a color normally associated with calmness, the ocean
or the sky therefore, it is ideal for our site. Even though it is simple it still has a professional feel
just like if the patient were visiting a doctor.


        B. Consistency: HealthTrak would feature a user friendly interface with menu
selections that are visible both on the side of the page and on the bottom of the page. This allows
non technical visitors locate our services both from the top of the page as well as the bottom of
the page. A style sheet would standardize the fonts and colors used throughout the site. The
navigation menus do not change throughout the site so the visitor can easily go back and forth
between areas without getting confused. All forms would indicate which fields are required and
which are optional. Form data would be validated before submitting it to the database.


        C. Maintainability: The site design would use templates, style sheets and dynamic
pages to make changes easy to implement. A change in the look and feel of the whole site could
be implemented by just changing the two templates used to generate every page within the
website. An administrator page would let the site administrator post or view information on the
site with an easy to understand graphical user interface.
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2.3 Site Organization
Site Map

       HealthTrak would offer a logical site map to help first-time users quickly identify where
they need to go. The site organization is a fundamental pillar in the overall user experience. As
seen in Figure 2, visitors would be able to go to almost any page of the site directly from the
homepage.




                                  Figure 2 HealthTrak Website Map



       The site is divided into two major sections. The main navigation section would go to all
areas of the site designed for patients or doctors. This includes registering, login, entering new
data, reviewing existing data, reading news and several other functions. The main navigation bar
would contain links to the Patient Login, Doctor Login, Diabetes Links, Register, About Us and
Contact Us pages on the left side of their screen. Another menu on the bottom of the page would
also include these links in smaller non-intrusive text.
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       There would also be a separate section for the site administrator that would allow
database maintenance and other special site functions. This administrator area would provide
areas for adding and editing news, backing up the data, purging obsolete data and general record
maintenance. The administrator’s login page would not be visible on user menus.



2.4 Applied Technologies

       HealthTrak would be based on dynamic web pages with the content stored in a database.
Several popular web tools would be used in its development. All pages would use an open source
scripting language called PHP. This language can be embedded into regular HTML (hypertext
markup language) content and allows much more flexibility by using variables, loops and other
programming language constructs. There is also a large library of functions available on the web
to integrate PHP with other technologies. An important one for our project is the set of built-in
functions to use the popular MySQL open source database. Several tables within MySQL would
store the patient and doctor’s profiles as well as news and other information. MySQL is free and
also very mature and stable. It is fast and can quickly retrieve data even on tables containing
millions of records.


       As our main web editor we would use an MIT student license of Macromedia’s
Dreamweaver MX 2004. One important Dreamweaver feature we would use is web templates.
This allows us to define on a template file the user interface of a group of pages. This supports
our goal of consistency since when the look and feel is changed on a template; all affected pages
are automatically updated. New pages can inherit a common user interface, saving development
time. A style sheet would promote consistency in the fonts and colors used.


       Finally, the website would be run in a private sever running the open source Apache web
server. Apache is free, fast and reliable and is the most popular web server on the Internet today
[Netcraft-1]. Its reliability has been proven by sites that manage massive amounts of traffic.
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3 Project Expectations and Work Plan

3.1 Timeline

         This project is expected to take about 12 weeks from start to completion. The main
milestones have specific target dates to meet the course schedule. The team would meet every
Saturday to discuss ideas, features and progress of the project. The following timeline (Figure 3)
presents the current target dates for the main milestones.

                           9/25   10/2   10/9   10/16   10/23   10/30   11/6   11/13   11/20   11/27   12/4

    Research and Materials

  Presentation and Planning

             Written Report

           Building website

                 Data Entry

         Creating Graphics

           Usability Testing

                 Debugging

         Final Presentation




                                          Figure 3 -- HealthTrak Gantt chart




3.2 Advantages of HealthTrak
Improved Doctor/Patient Interaction

         HealthTrak would facilitate the lines of communication between doctors and diabetes
patients. This can be an incentive for non-Internet users to learn the basics of computer literacy
in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Currently, doctors have paper folders of a patient’s
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history, but perhaps not with enough information from the patient. HealthTrak would be ideal
for patients to keep in touch with their doctor between visits.

Patient Goal Tracking

       HealthTrak website would allow patients to set goals and measure their performance
against those goals. Any abnormal tendencies would be reported to their doctor.

Education

       HealthTrak would provide general information on diabetes and the lifestyle required of
diabetes patients. It would be a center of news and articles about diabetes and its treatments.



3.3 Group Members and Roles

       Jesús Alvarez would be in charge of web development and would be the site
administrator prior to release to users. He would setup the database, develop the PHP scripts and
implement the user interface using Dreamweaver. His goal is to make the web site work properly
and promote an excellent user experience. He is in charge of making the pages appealing and
attention grabbing. Jesús is a beginner programmer but committed to learning the necessary
technologies to make HealthTrak an outstanding website.


       Natalie Paul would be in charge of the written content of the website and the sample
data used for testing. She would be in charge of testing each section of the website. Also, she
would be in charge of providing news and information about diabetes. Natalie is the group leader
and created the idea for the project. With a course 6 background and previous research on
diabetes, she is excited about the project.
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3.4 Goals for the semester

        By the end of the semester, HealthTrak would comprise a working site with all patient
and doctor interactions stored on a database, background information articles and the news
stories. Also, one goal is to have a doctor interact with test patient profiles and provide an overall
assessment of site functionality. Overall, visitors of HealthTrak would benefit from using it,
more people would become aware of diabetes and its effects, and more people would choose to
live healthier life styles.
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4 References

[1] [PDS-1] Broadband Access
       http://www.pdsconsulting.net/ShortPaper-BroadbandAccess.pdf


[2] [Netcraft-1] Netcraft Web Server Survey
       http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html
[3] [Nielsen-1] Jakob Nielsen’s Usability Articles
       http://www.useit.com/alertbox/

[4] http://www.nutball.com/blog/archives/004491.html

				
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