Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 60

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

In this week’s issue: an AI-powered “robodoctor,” a new systematic review on mHealth interventions for self-directed health promotion, 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.  

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Issue 60



Puzzled by your lab results? Give a try — this AI-powered robodoctor can converse with patients to help them interpret their lab results, starting with blood tests, genetic tests, and more. 

Google continues its dip into healthcare as the search engine has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to offer its users access to the PHQ-9, a clinically-validated depression questionnaire, when they search “depression” or “clinical depression.” The partnership aims to improve the public’s education on depression. 

Language barriers are a major obstacle for immigrants in accessing proper healthcare, but this app may have a solution. Project KRISTINA answers patients’ questions in their native language to assess their health problem and to help them determine where to go for care. It’s currently being tested in the EU.


A series of campaign-style text messages improved knowledge about hypertension among South Africans with hearing impairments. Researchers solicited feedback from participants about how to improve the text messages. Suggestions included: using pictures, using ‘signed’ texts, and designing an interactive communication service to allow participants to ask questions.

Did you know: depression is projected to be the primary cause of disability worldwide by 2030? A recent intervention that sent supportive campaign-style text messages twice per day for 3 months resulted in improvements in depression scores.

Speaking of text messaging and mental health…check out this systematic review on the efficacy, usability, and feasibility of mobile apps and text messages as mHealth interventions for self-guided physical and mental health. 


Last week, President Trump signed a bill to reauthorize the FDA’s user fee agreements on drugs and devices, which will be used to fund a new digital health unit. The bill will also pave the way for the use of new data sources for the agency, including EHRs and health registries.  

Massachusetts providers are seeking state support to increase access to telemedicine-enabled mental and behavioral health services. Advocates say proper legislation can provide the regulatory and payment structures required to use the technology that already exists.

Grab Bag

Duke has contracted with Medable to help researchers create their own ResearchKit or ResearchStack apps. See the Events section below or click here for more details! 

The LiveWell Rehabilitation Engineering Center (RERC) has an ‘App Factory’ RFP open to fund assistive and/or accessibility apps for people with disabilities. The deadline is 9/15; more information here.

The Duke Institute for Health Innovation (DIHI) announced its next funding cycle for demonstration pilots in digital health. All faculty, staff, and trainees are encouraged to apply (Deadline: 10/6). This cycle, DIHI is looking for:
1) Population health and analytics
2) Building resilience and well-being
3) Novel patient interactions
4) Team-based and new care models
5) Optimizing patient flow
6) Enhanced transitions of care
More information and application here!

We are recruiting!

We are looking for participants for a new study! Dr. Dori Steinberg is leading a study that uses a diet tracking app to improve adherence to a healthy diet among women who are at risk for heart disease. We’re looking for women ages 21-70 who can come to Durham, NC for regular visits, have pre-hypertension or hypertension, use a smartphone, and have an email account. Click here for more info and to see if you’re eligible! 

Upcoming Events

Webcast: Mobilizing mHealth Innovation for Real-World Evidence Generation
Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
Friday, 9/15, 2pm – 4pm EST
Click here for more info and to register! 

Medable 101: An introduction to the platform
Trent Semans Center, Duke University September 18th & 19th
AM Session: 9am – 12p / PM Session: 1p – 4p
More information here

Create my Medable Research App
Trent Semans Center, Duke University September 18th & 19th
AM Session: 9am – 12p
More information here

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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