Duke Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 61

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

In this week’s issue: telehealth providers support hurricane victims, FDA interoperability guidelines, 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 61



Pregnancy-related complications are rising across the US, but the specialists who treat them often don’t practice in rural areas where risk factors are higher. This article from the Wall Street Journal details how telemedicine can help. 

As Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have affected thousands, telehealth providers have stepped up to support those displaced by the storm. Several providers are offering telehealth visits free of charge.

Online therapy company Talkspace is looking to break down barriers surrounding access to mental health services. The company recently raised $31 million to continue buildling its network of mental health professionals, who reach a patient population where 70% have never had therapy before.


Findings from a locally developed mHealth intervention to improve pre- and post-natal care utilization in Ethiopia demonstrate that providing facilities with smartphones to send reminders for visits and educational messages can improve health care service utilization. 

A systematic review was just published summarizing the effectiveness of digital health interventions for promoting healthy eating in adults. Narrative review results point to small positive effects, but the authors recommend RCTs with longer-term follow up periods (over 6 months) to see if effects are maintained.

A recent RCT, SmartMoms, tested the effectiveness of a mobile-delivered weight gain prevention intervention for pregnant women at risk of gestational weight gain against an intervention delivered in person as well as against usual care. They found that almost equal proportions of the intervention groups exceeded the guidelines for weight gain; those rates were lower in both intervention groups compared to usual care. In addition, the mobile-delivered intervention was a lower cost to participants and clinics and saw higher adherence to the intervention components.


This week, Congress introduced a bill that would increase telehealth coverage in Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans currently do not reimburse telehealth services at the same rates as they do in-person services, unlike other Medicare plans.

The FDA recently released guidelines for medical device manufacturers in an effort to improve transparency, risk management, and safe usage of interoperability in connected devices. The guidelines come at a time where manufacturers are trying to balance the value of increasing interoperability with the risk in cybersecurity.

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 today! 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

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

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

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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