Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 35

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

A new “kit” for mental health, SMS for maternal health in Ghana, and more in this week’s digest! 

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 35



Tech1 SMSCommunity health workers in Ghana are using an SMS-based data collection system to track pregnant women who live in rural areas, and to keep real-time records of births and maternal deaths. The system is called CommCare – it is used in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Colorful tablets with capsules

Walgreens will offer a program to help patients increase medication adherence using gamification and other app-based patient engagement features. The HIPAA-compliant program will be ready for implementation in Q3 of 2016.

A new open source platform called Cognitive Kit will allow patients to track patterns in mood, memory, attention, and reaction time and send metrics to a mental health professional. The hope is that these metrics and real-time data sharing can improve mental health care. 


Arabic circular pattern over white background in editable vector file

Researchers in Saudi Arabia reviewed Arabic-language weight loss apps (n=65) for adherence to evidence-informed practices. They found that the median number of practices was 1, indicating serious weaknesses in Arabic weight loss apps. 

A digital health (email and SMS) randomized controlled trial among South Asian men and women aimed at reducing risk of myocardial infarction (MI) found no significant difference in MI risk score after 1 year between the intervention and usual care groups; nor was MI risk score influenced by knowledge of genetic risk.

SWINDON, UK - APRIL 18, 2014: Pile of Old Moblie Phones ready for recycling on a white background

A systematic review of sexual health interventions delivered by mobile technologies suggests that SMS-delivered interventions can increase uptake of sexual health services and STI testing. #moreresearchisneeded to assess outcomes such as safer sex behaviors and reducing STIs. 


Results are coming in from the first studies of the nation’s first soda tax in Berkeley, CA. So far, research suggests a 20% reduction in consumption of sugary drinks. Researchers saw a concurrent “huge increase in water consumption.” Whether the effects will last remains to be seen.
Policy 1 Gavel Issue 35
The International Trade Commission has ruled on another allegation of wrongdoing brought against Fitbit by Jawbone.  Two allegations were made against Fitbit: one for violating patents, which was dismissed in May, and another where Jawbone alleged that Fitbit had stolen trade secrets from them. This was dismissed this week. 

Grab bag

UNC has launched a new digital health research initiative, CaDHRI. Its mission is to “promote innovative use of digital health solutions to solve pressing patient-centered health problems.” Read more here! 

Grab Bag Pokemon Issue 35Pokémon Go is learning the rough and tumble world of participant engagement. After a strong start out of the gate (45 million users in July), reports show that 15 million users have stopped engaging with the game since August started. 

Upcoming Events

“Agile Science Techniques for Digital Health: A Carolina Digital Health Research Initiative workshop”
Speaker: Dr. Robert Furberg
Wednesday, 8/31, 4pm
UNC Health Sciences Library room 527
More Info here.

Informatics Research Seminar Series: Mobile Health Technologies for Precision Medicine
Speaker: Ryan Shaw, PhD, RN
Wednesday, 8/31, 4pm
Hock Plaza Auditorium
More Info here

“Design Disruptors” movie screening
Wednesday, 9/7, 6pm (doors open at 5:30p)
Full Frame Theater @ American Tobacco
RSVP here; space is limited.

“#FHIR – All Your Questions Answered”
Sponsored by Health 2.0 NC Triangle and Little Green Software 
Wednesday, 9/14, 6pm
Register here. 

NYAS Conference, “Big Data, Consumer Technology, and the Obesity Epidemic: Emerging Science and Ethical Considerations” 
New York City, September 16th
Featured Speaker: Gary Bennett! 

If you’d like to submit an event or article for us to publish in our digest, please send at least 3 weeks before the event to:

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