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An instant, Audio-Assisted Secretary for Patients and Physicians

Lead Dermatologist: Dr Chao-Kai Hsu & Dr Hsing-San Yang
Project team members:
Affiliation: National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Taiwan


An instant, Audio-Assisted Secretary for Patients and Physicians-EB as a example


iAIDigent, a mobile app that provides instant, audio-assisted e-secretary capabilities for bridging patients and physicians. It’s a one-click-away information and interaction platform.


Executive summary

Although we live in the era of information, a lot of time people still do not have instant access to user-oriented, organized and adequate medical knowledge. Furthermore, a one-click-away platform that provides patients, physicians and patients family to interact, communicate, monitor, and remind to enhance comprehensive physical and mental health is still remained to be desired. iAIDigent, a mobile app that provides instant, audio-assisted e-secretary for bridging patients and physicians. It has access to user-oriented information, audio-assisted and therefore with minimal technical-barrier, facilitates patients/physician interaction, provides notifications to enhance compliances, and unite patients together to provide social support.

The challenge

Access to instant and understandable information. Although the internet offers a lot of information, most of the medical reports are scattered and could be too difficult and time-consuming for patients or even for general physicians, in the case of rare skin diseases such as EB.

Minimal technical-barrier access. The process of information searching such as operating a computer could be rather challenging for patients with skin problems.

An instant platform for bridging patients and physicians. Sometimes patients have a symptom that would require a doctor’s attention, while doctors could benefit greatly from a continual update or monitoring of the status of the patients.

Portable e-secretary. Patient compliance is one of the key factor determining the outcome of the treatment. A portable e-secretary device should greatly enhance patient compliance in this regard.

Proximal social support. The mental support of the patients is also very important to their overall health. Having access to patients or family with similar disorder may allow the patients to bond and strengthen their mentality.

Project overview

We propose a mobile app “iAID” that function as an instant, audio-assisted e-secretary to bridge patients and physicians. iAID is designed not only for patients, but also family members, family physicians, and related professionals. Users can have iAID installed on their mobile devices and immediately have instant access to all the services and users, including physicians and patient-community support.

Here, we use, but not limited to, a rare inherited blistering disease “epidermolysis bullosa (EB)” as a model. Patients with EB have life-long blisters forming on their skins, which cause tremendous discomforts in any skin-related activities such as dressing or showering. Some forms of EB are associated with morbidity and increased mortality. Currently there is no effective treatment, and the best practice for EB include multi-disciplinary care to provide comprehensive healthcare and social welfare support. Apart from seeking for a cure, a platform that provides all-around aids from mental, social, and health network could greatly improve the living quality of the patients and their families.

As described in THE CHALLENGE, a lot still remains to be desired in patient care. iAID is designed according to the unmet need to provide solutions as described in the following:

Instant access to organized and understandable information. iAID provides organized information according to the need of the users. For example, regular newsletters for general users, information related to all the know-how’s of wound care for patients, while physicians receive the most up-to-date literatures. All of this just one click away from the app.

Audio-assisted access and command. A lot of patients with skin problems would have difficulties operating and clicking the mobile device, while physicians may struggle with time to search and read. One key feature of iAID is Audio-assisted access and command, where users can voice-command any operation, and have the newsletter reported in audio. This would greatly reduce the technical barrier required for all users, and increase its usage rate.

iCloud and social network platform for bridging, tracking, and monitoring all users. Combing iCloud technology and social network, users can record, capture, text, and store any voice messages, photos of the skin, text messages or track records to iCloud or the physicians. Physicians could also contact or reply patients, monitor patient status, or retrieve history records instantly. This platform will bridge patients and physicians and improve healthcare and communication much more effectively.

Portable e-secretary for all notifications and reminders. All the appointments, meetings, medications, treatments, and examinations can be scheduled and reminded. This simple function could enhance patients’ compliance tremendously, while at the same time provide feedback to the physicians.

Online community building and instant social support. iAID has built-in GPS system that allow users to locate nearby clinics, hospitals, or even other users that could provide social support. In addition, the iCloud and network mentioned earlier could also serve as a platform for patients and families to share their stories and feelings, which would further strengthen the mental support for the patients.

Success criteria and evaluation

Satisfaction survey: a survey of satisfaction from users; the response and suggestions from users
Frequency: The frequency of APP use through daily medical audio and photo record, the discussion on the blog, the amount of oral message left from patients
The experience sharing conference: medical students will report their experience of caring nearby patients and GP will report new diagnosed EB patient through the help by “iAID”
Medical Record: the audio record of international conference
Prognosis of wound condition: to evaluate the wound condition in the group of patients who used “iAID” compared with a control group.
Accuracy: to evaluate the prescription error rates and diagnosis errors in the group of physicians who used “iAID” compared with a control group.
Education outcome: the accuracy of weekly questionnaire mailed to GP and patients


An interview with the 2015 SKINPACTAward winner in the Community Leadership category, Community Vote Award:
Dr. Chao-Kai Hsu

“The SKINPACT Award is a tremendous opportunity to realize our vision of bringing a new dimension to dermatology and patient care, and achieving strong recognition of our team work that evolved through a global competition”

Dr. Chao-Kai Hsu, Project leader together with Dr. Hsing-San Yang, working with Dr. Sheng Pei-Wang and Hans I-Chen Harn
National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Taiwan

What motivated you to submit a project application to the SKINPACT Awards?
There are two motives that brought the project together:

  • The needs of EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) patients, and
  • The need to integrate mobile technology with medicine.
We have long witnessed the difficulties of EB patients in carrying out daily chores, and we are always looking for better ways to improve their quality of life. Use of an audio-controlled mobile app acts as a bridge to bringing the patient-doctor relationship much closer and facilitating better wound care and quality of life for the patients.


What is your project’s theme?
Using technology to bring patient-doctor communication closer than ever.

After winning the Award and grant, how did you proceed with executing your project?
We began by looking for the right IT collaborator to build the mobile app that we proposed. We were very fortunate to find a CEO that has provided all the services free of charge as a goodwill gesture for EB patients. At the same time, we also reached out to medical staff, international scholars and patients interested in the proposal, and invited them to join the project. Once the core team was formed, we programmed monthly teleconferences to ensure project progress.

What are the goals and measures of success for your project?
We hope that the mobile app (iAID) will provide an instant, audio-assisted e-secretary for bridging communication between patients and physicians. Patients will be able to take a photo of their skin and receive recommendations from the dermatologist. It will also serve as a social support platform for patient, family and physician communication. We will measure success via a satisfaction survey, evaluation of frequency of app use, an experience sharing conference, medical records, prognosis of wound condition, and educational outcomes.

What stage is your project at today?
The mobile app (iAID) is now in its testing stage with a beta-version. We are currently testing it with invited participants that include patients, scholars, and physicians. We will provide feedback to the IT team and allow them to adjust the app accordingly. Then, we will invite more EB patients and physicians to join the 2nd testing stage of the app.

Who is working with you on your project?
On the medical side:
- Chao-Kai Hsu, MD – Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
- Hsing-San Yang, MD – Visiting Researcher, St John’s Institute of Dermatology, King’s College London, UK
- Hans I-Chen Harn, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
- Sheng-Pei Wang, MD – Resident, Department of Dermatology, Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, Taiwan
- Chen-Chee Lim – Intern, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
On the IT side:
- Wei-Wen Chen – Head of Information & Technology, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
- Yong-Sheng Wang – CEO of Vigor Shine Technology Co. Ltd, Taichung, Taiwan
- Ya-Han Hong – IT Specialist at Vigor Shine Technology Co. Ltd, Taichung, Taiwan

What would be the impact of your project? How do you think your project will make a difference in the real world setting?
In the foreseeable future, this project will connect patients, families, and physicians, and provide all-around aids from mental, social, and health networks. These will greatly improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Furthermore, patient compliance will improve and dermatologists will learn from the growing database.

In the long term, we also believe the impact of iAID could extend beyond dermatology. Any user with the need for tele-medical care will benefit from the platform. iAID should also facilitate better patient-family-physician communication and improve the patient-physician relationship.

What would you say to professionals who wish to apply to the SKINPACT Awards?
We think that the SKINPACT Awards are perfect for physicians or scientists in dermatology that have brilliant ideas too wild for NIH grants, too simple for entrepreneur start-ups, and too ‘non-academic’ for hospital grants. Thus to apply for the awards, one needs to identify the unmet need, look around for free-minded teammates, and dream big!

Finally, could you give some words of encouragement to inspire those who have ideas and initiatives?
All great inventions of today started with a simple idea, very little support, but with big hearts. If you believe in your vision, go for it while the dream is still vivid!

A little bit more about Dr. Chao Kai-Hsu and Hsing-San Yang…
"On a typical working day...

the daily routine is constituted of clinical meetings, outpatient clinics and inpatient care. In addition, we also perform skin biopsy and genetic study for definite diagnosis. The latter is the major interest of our research that we perform daily as well.”