Duke Digital Health Science Digest – Issue 76

Posted | Posted in Digital Health Science Digest

Texting to help reduce opioid relapses, a new Center of Excellence on Digital Health, and more in this issue!

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 76



A new tablet app could help people living in rural India determine their risk of developing diabetes. The app is tablet-based, and is meant to help community health workers screen people and record their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, height and weight. 

A recent survey on innovation challenges shows that prize money isn’t the only incentive that drives quality submissions. Indeed, among teams surveyed that only had a concept at the time of entry, half said that their primary motivation was “an interest in exploring the problem space.”

An automated, interactive text-message based program could help patients reduce opioid relapses. A very small study conducted in St. Louis demonstrated promising early results: the number of participants reporting that they used opioids in the last 3 days fell from 43% to 12% after 3 months. 


A systematic review and meta-synthesis looked at the effectiveness, acceptability and usefulness of mobile apps for cardiovascular disease self-management. It found that factors that improved among app users were: rehospitalization, disease-specific knowledge, quality of life, well-being, blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, cholesterol, and exercise capacity. 

A “realist review” on mHealth communication (via voice and text message) between a patient and a health worker found that a match between what the intervention provides and the needs or social factors relevant to the specific patient group can increase the effect of the intervention. 

A pilot comparative effectiveness trial looked at using either a smartphone or paper to self-monitor multiple behaviors among adults who were overweight or had obesity and type 2 diabetes living in underserved communities. The intervention found higher preliminary efficacy among the smartphone group, compared with the paper-based self-monitoring. 


The Food and Drug Administration is seeking $70 million to create a Center of Excellence on Digital Health. Part of the funding and congressional authority the FDA is asking for will establish a CyberMed Safety Analysis Board; a so-called “go-team” that can investigate suspected cyber attacks at the request of a manufacturer or the FDA. 

Check out this policy news roundup from Q1 2018  at Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs

Grab Bag

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!  

The Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health is a new center based in London whose mission is to “incubate digital health innovation and venture capital in order to implement the sustainable development goals.”   

Upcoming Events

Creating Engaging Mobile Apps
The Mobile App Gateway and a local development partner are offering a workshop on best practices for creating engaging mobile apps that will bring your users back for more. 
Thursday, April 26th 9am – 1pm
Erwin Mill A103
Sign up here!

Clinical Research Day at Duke
Featuring a talk by our director, Gary Bennett! 
Thursday, May 17th, 4:00pm – 7:30pm
Great Hall, Trent Semans Center 
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: erica.levine@duke.edu

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