Digital Health Science Digest: Issue 24

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

Planned Parenthood and Ideo team up to integrate digital health into the clinic, most commercially available diabetes apps do not have privacy policies, new mandates for e-prescriptions, and more this week! 

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 24



  • In the latest digital health awesomeness out of Tel Aviv University, scientists have “integrated electronics and living tissue” to create a patch that can contract the cardiac muscle and releases medication. Only a few bionic steps til Terminator…
  • The Economist has a great overview piece on mHealth apps out right now. It’s called, “Things Are Looking App” (get it? app? heehee so pun-ny!) Also, their cartoonist should get a prize for Best mHealth-Related Image. Check it out!
  • Planned Parenthood recently partnered with Ideo to redesign the patient experience in its clinics. Redesign of the walk-in clinic experience included updates to the physical space and flow of the visit, as well as prototyping a “Visit Companion” app that will guide patients through their visits. 


  • Have you heard of Duke ResearchMatch? It pairs researchers with potential research participants. 
  • A recent review of privacy policies of Android diabetes apps found that the majority of them (81% of 211) did not have privacy policies. Of the 41 apps that did, almost half of them stated that they shared data with third parties. Only 4 apps’ policies said they would ask users for permission to share data. 
  • If you tell Siri you’re in danger, will she know what to do? A small study recently published in JAMA aimed to find out. They asked Siri, Google Now, S Voice, and Cortana 9 questions (3 each in mental health, interpersonal violence, and physical health) to see how they responded. Find out how each platform performed here.
  • Researchers in Australia conducted a survey to assess out how well children are following pediatricians’ advice to limit screen time. The paper is titled, perhaps aptly, “Virtually Impossible”  =(


  • President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative has the potential to be a real catalyst for digital health science. A small amount of earmarked funds plus Obama’s calls for open data has spurred big health companies to collect more patient data, share it, and to “give patients a voice in the process.” All of these forces moving together toward a common goal (better health outcomes) has the potential to help us reach that goal faster.
  • Coinciding with new CDC guidelines against prescribing opioids for chronic pain management, New York has become the first state to require electronically-issued prescriptions, and to penalize physicians who fail to comply. Why? Pen and paper is really easy to forge. While the mandate has the ability to drastically reduce errors and cut down on fraud, it also may carry significant implications for access. Since the digital prescription will be sent directly to a pharmacy, patients will have to have a preferred pharmacy and there is no easy way to redirect the prescription if the pharmacy is out or if the medication is too expensive. 

Grab bag

  • Calling all digital health ideators! Submit your abstract for the poster session during our annual conference on April 20th. Apply here by April 4th! 
  • This year’s mHealth@Duke conference theme is Mobile and Digital Technology in the New Era of Precision Medicine and Population Health and confirmed speakers include:
    • Bill Riley, PhD, Director, OBSSR at NIH
    • Donna Spruijt-Metz, MFA, PhD, Director, USC mHealth Collaboratory
    • J. Aaron Hipp, PhD, Associate Professor of Community Health & Sustainability, NCSU
  • Register here today!

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