Duke Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 49

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

In today’s issue: register for the 5th Annual mHealth@Duke Conference, GPS data turns into a health tool, and more! 

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.  

More here: dukedigitalhealth.org

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Issue 49



We’ve all Googled our symptoms, even if we know it’s not going to be very reliable. This digital health startup is trying to change that, with the launch of its artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, Bouy. Bouy is smart enough to give a specific list of possible conditions, as well as suggestions for next steps. Bouy’s creators hope that the chatbot will make it easier for people to make informed decisions about their health.

As it turns out, GPS data is good for more than just getting you around town. This study used GPS data from smartphones to model symptoms and behaviors of patients with depression. Researchers from UVA had undergraduate students respond to surveys on their phones and collected GPS data in order to better pinpoint symptom patterns.

Need motivation to keep at that New Year’s Resolution? Virtual medical clinic Virta has its own ambitious goal: reverse Type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025. The service uses telehealth, text messaging, artificial intelligence, and vitals monitoring through Virta’s app to create an individualized approach.


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). A recently published Viewpoint in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) by Duke Digital Health reminds us that even today, only half of the 80 million Americans with hypertension have controlled blood pressure. A better diet can help patients control their blood pressure, and this viewpoint lays out a path for integrating evidence and digital health tools to help patients improve their diet. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, early infant diagnosis of HIV infection faces many systemic challenges. A study conducted in Zambia assessed whether a text message-based notification program was feasible and effective at notifying mothers of infant HIV status earlier than paper notifications. Only 30% of mothers in this rural area of Zambia reported ever using a mobile phone. Delivery of results by text message improved from 2013-2014, where the availability of texted results went from 38% in 2013 to 91% in 2014. 


This week, the Congressional Budget Office released its report on the effects of the American Health Care Act, the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act. According to the report, the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017 to 2026, the largest savings coming from reducing spending on Medicaid and from eliminating subsidies for nongroup health insurance. The CBO also predicted that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the new policy.

The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act is facing controversy for enabling employers to conduct genetic testing on its employees as part of workplace wellness programs. While the bill’s supporters say it will simplify regulations around workplace wellness and allow for improvements and cost reductions, opponents argue that the bill removes privacy protections around digital health information collection and would ultimately hamper wellness programs.

West Virginia recently sent a telemedicine bill to the state Senate that would increase access to mental and behavioral healthcare medicines. Currently, state laws prohibit telehealth prescriptions for certain medications, which has been linked to the state’s opioid abuse crisis.

Grab Bag

We are hiring!  Duke Digital Health invites applications for a new 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in the area of digital health and obesity. Full job description can be found here and more information about our center can be found here.

Another open position! The Duke ADHD Program invites applications for a new 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in the area of digital health and ADHD. Full job description can be found here and more information about the ADHD program at Duke can be found here.

IntraHealth is hiring a Director of Digital Health. Check out the job description here.

The Health Data Exploration Network is holding its third annual Network Meeting and Data Drive in San Diego on Tuesday 5/2 and Wednesday 5/3. The theme this year is “Representing the Person: Promoting Social Justice in the Use of Personal Health Data.” The goal of the meeting is to explore and discuss questions about the ways that personal data represent individuals and populations. 

Don’t forget to register for the mHealth@Duke Conference: The Lifecycle of Digital Health – details below!

CHealth Data Science Kickoff Event
Learn about recent advances and partnerships in health data science at Duke
Monday, 3/20, 12 – 3pm
JB Duke Hotel
More info

Calling all Engineers & Developers!
Join the AARP + UNC Digital Health Innovation Sprint Design Challenge
Friday and Saturday 3/24-35
More information here!

Microinsurance: Financing Healthcare in East Africa for the Base of the Pyramid
Jeff Moe, Professor of Global Health, Duke Global Health Institute
Vincent Okungu, Lecturer in Health Economics, Strathmore University, Nairobi
Peter Gross, Marketing Director, MicroEnsure Labs 
Tuesday, March 28
12 – 1pm, Trent Hall, 040
Lunch will be served!
Check the Duke Global Health Institute event calendar for updates

3rd Annual mHealth@Duke Shark Tank Competition!
Come see 4 teams pitch their best digital health ideas to address global health disparities!
Friday, April 7th 10am – 11:30am, Trent Hall 124
Refreshments will be served

5th Annual mHealth@Duke Conference – register today!
The Lifecycle of Digital Health Science
Keynote speaker: Drew Schiller, CEO & Co-Founder, Validic
Wednesday, April 12th 
9am – 4pm Great Hall, Trent Semans Center for Health Education, Duke Medicine
Powered by Duke Digital Health & Smashing Boxes
Registration is free but limited
Click here to register!

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: erica.levine@duke.edu

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