Researching Affordable Health Interventions

Dr. Kavita Radhakrishnan

Meet Kavita Radhakrishnan, PhD, MSEE, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor at the UT Austin School of Nursing. Dr. Radhakrishnan’s research applies current and emerging technologies such as telemonitoring, connected sensors and digital gaming in order to resolve clinical nursing research problems such as heart failure self-management. The long-term goal of her research is to develop affordable and scalable health interventions that enable ‘aging in place’.

Dr. Radhakrishnan finds that digital games can be a fun and appealing medium to encourage healthy behaviors. To investigate this innovative medium, she recently received a research grant in the amount of $2.77 million from the National Institutes of Health-National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH-NHLBI) to conduct a clinical trial on sensor-controlled digital game for heart failure self-management behaviors. The pilot study which informed this grant was recently published online in the Journal of Medical Internet Research - Serious Games. In addition to her research, Dr. Radhakrishnan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, serves on their Information Technology Expert Panel and has also served as an expert advisor on policy task force of the American Heart Association and Texas Nursing Association.

Growing up in India, Dr. Radhakrishnan received an undergraduate degree in engineering before pursuing a master’s degree in the United States. While in Boston looking for an engineering job, she volunteered at a hospital and liked what she saw the nurses doing. “It was the practical, analytical, problem-solving-driven work that really appealed to me,” she said. “But at the same time, I noticed that many of them were frustrated. They were looking for the right kind of technology to help their patients, but it wasn’t available.” Dr. Radhakrishnan believed she could create some solutions but also knew she needed to be one of the nurses in order to propose any meaningful changes. She enrolled in an alternate-entry nursing program and, to her surprise, found her calling. “I really felt connected with the nursing courses.” Moreover, her family's challenges with cardiac health issues motivated Dr. Radhakrishnan to find solutions that can help people with cardiac problems avoid frequent hospitalizations.