Research Award Details

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The Effect of Social Interaction through Mobile Applications on the Quality of Life of Children Diagnosed with Early Onset Scoliosis

Grant Recipient: Jaysson Brooks, MD

Children's of Mississippi/University of Mississippi Medical Center
Presentations & Publications:
Further Funding:
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Title of Proposal
The Effect of Social Interaction through Mobile Applications on the Quality of Life of Children Diagnosed with Early Onset Scoliosis
Summary of Project
The purpose of this quality improvement study was to see if connecting families of children with early onset scoliosis (EOS) together and encouraging social interactions through a HIPPA compliant mobile application might improve their quality of life and decrease the stresses associated with their child’s treatment.
The entirety of the budget was going to be used to pay a developer to create the application for the Apple iOS platform. It took nearly 6 months to find a developer that would take on the project given the small amount of money available. By April of 2019 a developer began to write the background code necessary to create a HIPPA compliant application. By November of 2019 the application was complete, and a video demo was shown to members of the newly formed Pediatric Spine Study Group. To date the app is still in the process of being finally approved by the Apple App Store. Once this is complete, the app can actually be distributed to fellow surgeons and their patients.  
The way the app works is that it can be freely downloaded from the App Store, however it can only be used by a patient if they receive a special token/code given to them by their orthopaedic surgeon. Once they log in, the parent is taken immediately to a page where they fill out the Early Onset Scoliosis (EOSQ-24) patient reported outcome instrument. After they fill this out, then the parent can identify what stage of EOS treatment their child is in (Bracing, Casting, Growing Rod Treatment, Tethering, Final Fusion, etc). Then the parent can enter a HIPPA compliant chatroom within the app that allows parents of kids with similar diagnoses to talk with one another. There are also other areas of the application that allow parents to look at curated educational videos based various EOS topics. The video demo of the application can be seen here.

Lessons Learned
A lesson learned in this project is that even for a simple mobile application, a larger budget is needed in order to find a developer that can get a finished product within the allotted time. In hindsight $5,000-$10,000 would have been a better initial amount, for the simple fact that the added money would have attracted a developer who could work more expeditiously.  
Primary outcome measure of success
The primary outcome was to first develop the app and the secondary outcome was to see (through parent use of the app) if an objective improvement in the family’s quality of life occurred based on EOSQ-24 data. The app was successfully developed but it took 1 year to get this accomplished therefore we were not able to attain the secondary outcome yet.
Future Plans
Once the application is finally approved in the Apple App store, the next step would be for a select number of surgeons that see patients with EOS (selected within the Pediatric Spine Study Group) to receive app tokens/codes to give to the parents of their patients. We will then allow these families to use the app for 1 year and then measure their pre-app and 1-year post-app quality of life. Our goal will be to present the results of this study at a future POSNA and/or ICEOS meeting. In addition, our future plans will also involve development of an app that works on the Android mobile platform in order to reach more patients.