This year at the mHealth Summit, I opted to attend the 2014 NIH mHealth Institute pre-conference. This 2-day session, lead by Dr. Wendy Neilson (@WendyNilsen) from NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, gives a view of app thinking from the perspective of research, focusing on ways to use and study mHealth apps for change. This space is so important but not easy to do. Developers tend to focus on functionality, researchers on populations and study questions. mHealth research has to be practical as technology moves swiftly. No 3-year randomized control trials need apply. True transdisciplinary efforts must create agile approaches done in scientifically robust ways.
Alain Koffi, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Susan Woods, MD, MPH, Veterans Health Administration (@SueWoods), Linda Park, PhD, FNP-BC, U. California San Francisco; Dayo Ajayi-Obe, MD, SM, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; Donna Spruijt-Metz, MFA, PhD, U. Southern California and NIH mHealth Institute Faculty (@metzlab); Amy Dunaway, MPH, MA, U. Missouri; Brad Tritle, CIPP, vitaphone e-health solutions (@BTritle); Zdenek Gutter, PhD, Czech National eHealth Centre, Stimcare; Sumal Nandasena, MD, MSc, MBBS, Sri Lanka Ministry of Health. Not in photograph: Robyn Stremler, RN, PhD, U. Toronto; EunSeok (Julie) Cha, PhD, MPH, RN, Emory University.
The best part of the experience was that it was shared. We worked in small groups at round tables coming up with problems to solve, and ideas and methods to study them. Our international group was collaborative, theorizing about serious stuff: pregnant women waiting for Medicaid eligibility assessment. What did we come up with? We decided to give women a smart phone, loaded with our ‘study app’ – connecting users to one another and to community information (Why not? It’s reasonable to think that handing out technology can improve health and cut costs, too). We were interested in studying effects of social networks and access to virtual resources — developed based on what was important in the women’s lives and designing to fit their needs. Lecturer “Billie” Nahum-Shani demonstrated her sharp methodology expertise, pushing us to ramp up our science-thinking.
We probably won’t write a proposal together, but some are sure to pursue mHealth research funding in 2015. We had fun thinking about how to dig into a rapidly growing field and learned from all the speakers. Thanks to all the mHealth NIH Institute faculty (check here for future trainings). Our group gives special appreciation goes to Donna Spruijt-Metz, who kept us on our toes our 2nd day group facilitator – thanks, Donna!
Wouldn’t it be fun for this group to come back together — like Oprah — in 5 or 10 years and see what everyone’s up to? Let’s stay in touch, team!