Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 62

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

In this issue: app-controlled drone deliveries, digital Alcoholics Anonymous, 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 62



Lab sample deliveries just got a lot more high-tech. California-based Matternet will begin delivering lab samples in Europe with app-controlled drones, which will increase the reliability and speed of deliveries — one study showed that drones carrying defibrillators could get to patients up to 17 minutes before EMS responders.

Apple, Fitbit, and Samsung are all participating in a new FDA-run pilot program that aims to modernize the regulatory framework surrounding health devices. A shift in focus from product to company may help fast-track health software and hardware. 

The Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy recently released a report on how the healthcare industry can best use mHealth apps and devices in clinical trials.

Digital health can help the most hard-to-reach populations access treatment, and NYC startup Annum is doing just that with a digital approach to treating alcoholism. 16 million Americans suffer from alcohol use disorder, with many more at risk, and Annum hopes to combat that by increasing access to treatment via mobile phone.


A randomized pilot weight loss study was conducted among cancer survivors, and compared the effect of a telephone-delivered intervention to that of an Internet-delivered one. Participants in the telephone intervention engaged at higher rates and showed greater decreases in waist circumference than those in the Internet-delivered intervention.

An intervention to improve antihypertensive drug adherence among adults in Santiago, Chile, found that SMS reminders resulted in improved adherence over 6 months. 

A recent literature review examining the most appropriate services, application areas, and target diseases for mHealth in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) found that the most common application areas for text-messaging were raising awareness and health surveillance. Additionally, it found that text-messaging solution are prevalent in both high income countries and LMICs,  and that diabetes is the most commonly targeted medical condition.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to test the efficacy of smartphone-based mental health interventions for depression was recently published. Findings were comprehensive and included comparisons to both inactive and active control conditions as well as compared to human -delivered interventions. 


The state of New York just passed a bill to expand telehealth access for doctors, dentists, and mental health experts to schools and childcare centers. The move will help bridge healthcare provider gaps in certain counties.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we saw how valuable telehealth can be in emergency situations. This article details how telehealth is picking up steam for policymakers in Washington D.C. In fact, both the Senate and the House have recently passed bills to expand telehealth as part of Medicare services.

Grab Bag

AARP Foundation and Rock Health invite digital health startups to apply for the 2017 Aging in Place $50k Challenge. Improve the lives of vulnerable seniors by helping to reduce unnecessary healthcare services, costs, and hospital readmission rates. Applications due October 2nd.  

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 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

3rd Annual DIHI Innovation Jam
Tuesday, October 3rd, 1pm – 3pm
Duke South Clinic Amphitheater
More Info

Duke Social Innovation Meet-Up
Monday October 9th, 6pm – 8pm
Gross Hall Atrium

Duke Mobile App Gateway Kickoff
Thursday, October 19th, 8am – 12pm
Trent Semans Center
More info & RSVP

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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