Duke Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 70

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science 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 70



Apple released new features for its latest operating system update (11.3). Prominently featured among the updates is a new Health Records app that aims to collate a user’s medical data across healthcare providers. 

In other “large tech company” news, Microsoft announced it will end a research project called HealthVault Insights, which used machine learning to help users interpret their medical record data. It will keep the parent platform, HealthVault, running, and announced its integration with (Durham-based) Validic and a collaboration with Get Real Health.

“The Apple Watch is a behavioral intervention device that was created without consulting any behaviorists.” 

An app designed to promote medication adherence using the loss-aversion principle of behavioral economics is showing early signs of success at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. Mount Sinai and the startup Wellth enrolled 12 patients who receive Medicaid insurance in a pilot to determine the effects of using the app on medication adherence. The program is funded by 2 New York City-based organizations and allows patients to earn up to $50 for one month of medication adherence.


A recent article published in New England Journal of Medicine looks at the potential uses of digital adherence monitoring.

A randomized controlled trial tested the efficacy of an automated, smartphone-based goal-setting intervention to promote walking at least 10,000 steps per day. The intervention used machine learning to deliver personalized daily step goals. While both groups had decreased their daily steps after 10 weeks (compared with the run-in period), the intervention group had taken almost 1,000 more steps than the active control group. They found that after 6 weeks, the personalized step goals seemed to be more effective in engaging participants and maintaining progress day-to-day.

A recent study evaluating daily text messages to improve caregivers’ adherence to infant micronutrient powder in a rural province in China found that the text messages increased the number of packages fed, though the increases were not significant enough to increase the probability of “full adherence” of feeding 5-7 packets per week. 


In 2016, the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) founded Xertia, an evaluation and certification resource for mHealth apps. They recently unveiled preliminary guidelines for healthcare providers, mobile health developers and others involved in creating mHealth apps. The move is timely; according to a recent report, there are now more than 318,000 mHealth apps now on the market – that’s more than twice the number in 2015.

Alex Azar  was confirmed this week as the secretary of health and human services. He is the former president of the US arm of Eli Lilly & Co.

Alaska’s largest primary care group is using mHealth to promote diabetes self-management. Providers across the practice are utilizing the Livongo for Diabetes “digital health package,” which includes mHealth devices and a web-based care management platform to help their patients with type 1 diabetes. Alaskans face particular challenges regarding access to healthcare; they often have long distances to travel compounded with long wait times to see the few specialists who practice in the state. 

Grab Bag

#notexactlydigitalhealth #butstillimportant #humblebrag
Our director, Dr. Gary Bennett, co-authored an editorial comment in JAMA Internal Medicine supporting behavioral counseling for diet and physical activity for all adults, those with obesity and those without. h/t friend of Duke Digital Health & Dr. Bennett’s co-author, Dr. Sherry Pagoto!

The LiveWell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center is sponsoring an app development competition for middle, high school, and college students as well as non-professional developers. The app challenge is intended to promote awareness of the need for assistive and accessible technologies by fostering innovation. Submissions are due May 1. More information and guidelines here!

Deadline approaching! The Duke Mobile App Gateway has announced a new RFA to fund 2 research projects on the Medable platform. Applications are due January 31, 2018. Funded researchers will also receive 10 hours of support from the Mobile App Gateway team. Click here for more information! 

Deadline approaching! The Duke Center for REsearch to AdvanCe Healthcare Equity (REACH Equity) is seeking applications for a mentored career development award for junior faculty. Up to 6 awards will be funded this year. The awards provide up to $75,000 per year for 2 years. Applications are due February 1, 2018. A recent event celebrated its founding – check out coverage of the event here!

Bull City Fit, a community-based wellness program in Durham, is looking for 1-2 Cooking and Nutrition interns for Spring 2018. More information and application here

Upcoming Events

Design Thinking Workshop
Do you have an idea for a mobile app? Design Thinking can help unlock potential in the creation, design, and implementation of useful and effective mobile apps. In this 4 hour workshop, we will explore a Design Thinking roadmap. 
Friday, February 2, 9am – 1pm
The Link, Classroom 3
Sign up here!

Digital Health Symposium, “Digital Health Everywhere”
Hosted by UNC’s Health Sciences Library
Friday, February 23, 8:30am – 2pm
UNC Health Sciences Library
Call for posters! Please fill out the following application with a short abstract. Applications are due Monday, January 22nd. 

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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