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7 July 2022 2 min read

Andrew is working on mHealth solutions to challenge health disparities in Australia. ©  Claudine Thronton

Andrew is an Aboriginal man from beautiful Iningai Country in western Queensland. He's researching hypertension management in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. And he's doing it with the help of mobile health (mHealth).

mHealth to assist communities

"I am a PhD candidate with the University of Queensland[Link will open in a new window] and our Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC)[Link will open in a new window]. I’m co-designing and co-developing potential mobile health (mHealth) solutions. These solutions may offer an opportunity to challenge the health disparities within Australia," Andrew said.

As well as addressing inequity in healthcare, Andrew's PhD research project also aims to improve awareness, understanding and clinical management of hypertension.

"For my research, I'm using a smartphone app and web-based interactive system. It is an mHealth platform named strong-eH.

"Strong-eH allows patients to understand and monitor their own health using a mobile app. Then their health teams can track symptoms remotely via a web-based clinic portal."

Andrew's developing an mHealth solution for hypertension.

The value of partnership

Andrew is very aware of his position in the research.

"There is a slogan 'Nothing about us, without us' which rings true in my work," Andrew said.

"If we're going to investigate and assess health interventions that are reciprocal and beneficial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, it's important to partner with the experts – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"I love that my research is driven by partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. For instance, I'm conducting research which will be mutually beneficial for the patient, community and the research team.

"And AEHRC allows me to learn from some of the brightest minds in our country," he said.

A guiding framework

The use of mHealth and eHealth are becoming more popular. So it's important to make sure these services are culturally appropriate for First Nations peoples.

Andrew is a part of the Indigenous Health Group at AEHRC. The group are authors on a research paper[Link will open in a new window] that is setting up a cultural framework for future eHealth solutions.

“We’re establishing an evidence framework for healthcare technology specific to the interests and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.

"This work is being led by some amazing researchers. This includes my colleagues Georgina Hobson, Kaley Butten[Link will open in a new window] and Ray Mahoney[Link will open in a new window]. They are guiding the co-design, implementation and evaluation of culturally safe eHealth interventions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"This is a powerful origin paper. It provides a roadmap for how contemporary health interventions (eHealth or mHealth) can be used with successful models of care while upholding timeless cultural practices."

Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

During NAIDOC Week[Link will open in a new window], the theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! Andrew sees the deep history of this movement.

"Throughout the history of colonised Australia, successful and sustainable change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs have only ever happened if it was driven and partnered with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"So, to me, the theme is a continuation of what our old people who came before us championed. They also continue to challenge, advocate and be the element for change."

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