Dr. Ryan Coller Wins Federal Challenge to Build App for Families with Children with Complex Health Care Needs

Ryan Coller, MD, MPH (Assistant Professor, Division of Hospital Medicine) and Nicole Werner, PhD, an assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, have won a share of a $100,000 award to develop technology for families caring for children with complex medical needs at home.

The award comes from the Health Resources and Health Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Only seven winners were selected nationally.

Drs. Coller and Werner are working on a mobile app called @HOME that aims to connect and support families caring for children who need enteral tubes (such as tubes into the stomach or intestines to safely give medications, nutrition and hydration) in a home setting.

“Among children with complex medical needs, 30 percent of all emergency department visits and 17 percent of all hospitalizations were due to device complications at home. The majority were from enteral tubes, and we think a number of these might be prevented by better supporting families,” said Dr. Coller, who is also a co-founder of the Pediatric Complex Care Program at American Family Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Coller said the Phase I prototype will be developed by partnering with families. That portion of the research will be guided by Barbara Katz, co-director of Family Voices of Wisconsin. Katz will lead family engagement during design sessions with socioeconomically diverse family caregivers who manage enteral tubes.

In Phase II, the prototype will be developed, and small-scale testing will be conducted through July 2019.

Three to five of the original seven awardees will be given a share of $125,000 to advance to Phase III. During this phase, teams will test their interventions on a larger scale and one will be selected to receive a grand prize of $150,000.

For more information about the @HOME app vision, watch this video.