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mHealth Insights

Sharing ideas with tomorrow’s technology innovators

The challenge

There is an urgent need to address chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, particularly among minority populations. Mobile health (mHealth) approaches – such as health-related apps and tools – show great promise for achieving better health outcomes.

Smartphones are abundant even in low-income and minority households. In fact, 84% of low-income adults have a mobile phone and one in three mobile phone owners have used their phone to look up health information.*

The vision

Since 1961, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has promoted better health through information technology. Today, the Society supports research that explores real-time acquisition of people’s health-related data. Mobile technology and integrated sensors now allow us to assess a person’s behavior, biological and psychological states, and location – all in real time. This means that researchers can gather more accurate information over longer periods of time.

The approach

With assistance from the Aetna Foundation, HIMSS in 2014 co-hosted an mHealth Training Institute in Washington, D.C. The Institute focused on mobile technologies as a gateway to reducing health disparities. The Aetna Foundation provided 10 scholarships for early stage investigators with an interest in mHealth to attend the Training Institute.

The results

The Institute brought together leaders in mobile technology, behavioral sciences and clinical research to lead this cross-training event. Sessions targeted major research issues that spanned these various disciplines. In small, mentored, interdisciplinary teams, participants developed mHealth research projects. The Aetna Foundation has since formed an informal relationship with the 10 sponsored scholars to continue the dialogue about mHealth’s potential for addressing health disparities.

* Source: The Pew Research Center

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