Digital Health Science Digest: Issue 19

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

Happy New Year! We’ve only been back for a week but we’ve got lots of things to tell you – about CVS and Omron’s newest innovations, and about behavior change via SMS, and about a new app that seeks out hidden sugar! 

The Digital Health Science Digest is a bimonthly newsletter compiled by Duke Digital Health. We bring you the most interesting research publications, policy news, and other fun digital health science stuff.  

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Issue 19



  • CVS Health went digital…and just keeps going! Building off evidence that digitally engaged patients have better medication adherence, the CVS health app includes features to manage insurance information, links prescriptions with medication reminders, and it’s compatible with HealthKit! 
  • It’s hard out there for an app. Our director explains why in this blog post.
  • GreatCall is helping seniors to age in place with a wearable that can be worn on the wrist or around the neck. It is an activity tracker, but can also call for help in case of emergency. Its companion app facilitates communication between seniors and their caregivers as well.


  • The MenSS website is a theory- and evidence-based digital health intervention to increase condom use among heterosexual men. This paper describes the intervention development process.
  • An innovative text-messaging intervention among parents to support behavior change in a childhood obesity RCT found high engagement rates after 1 year, with nearly 2/3 of parents responding to 75% or more of the texts. 


  • Public Health England created a new “smart app” for parents to help control their children’s sugar intake. The free app, called Change4Life Sugar Smart, scans barcodes and will shows the amount of sugar in the food either in grams or the sugar cube equivalent. 


  • If you’ve ever listened to NPR, you’ve at least heard about Lumosity, the “brain training” app that promises to prevent cognitive decline. The company was sued by the Federal Trade Commission, who asserted that the company made exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of the app without sufficient data to back them up. They paid $2 million in damages due to false claims.
  • Earlier this week during an emotional speech on gun violence, President Obama urged the private sector to develop innovative gun safety features, like a fingerprint lock or a tracking device. “If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure they can’t pull the trigger on a gun,” he said, noting that in 2013, 30 children under the age of 5 died due to gun accidents. 


  • The new MEDx Mobile and Wireless Technology Colloquium is hosting a kickoff meeting for Duke faculty, staff, and students who are interested in the intersection of medicine and engineering. Find out more here! 
  • mHealth@Duke is accepting applications for the 2nd Annual Shark Tank! Enter your idea for a chance to “swim with the [mHealth] sharks” and win $1,000! Applications are due 2/26.
  • The Duke Center for Addiction Science and Technology (CfAST) is seeking an Assistant Professor with research interests in mHealth and related areas including personalized medicine, telemedicine, real-time adaptive interventions, and/or behavior sensing. 
  • Durham’s Project Access recently launched HELP, the Health Equipment Loan Program, which recycles donated durable medical equipment and loans it for free to those who need it. 

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