andre blackman answers remaining #co_health mobile health chat questions

May 2, 2011

in cohealth,mobile health,wellness

andre blackman was our guest on the last cohealth tweet chat (recap), and he answered most of our questions about how employee wellness efforts can incorporate mobile health (mhealth) solutions. a few questions from the cohealth community were left dangling, so andre’s answered them here.

how do you track changes in behavior as a result of short message service (AKA text) health interventions?

ab: tracking changes with SMS will depend on what sort of behavior change you’re measuring. something such as medical adherence may take some time, and i believe that’s something that can be tracked through a feedback module as well as pre- and post-data comparison. my delicious account has relevant studies and information on behavior change with mhealth.

there are people who don’t text or use smartphones. must we support all audiences?

ab: we’re hardly in a time where anything is a must, especially related to mhealth. knowing who you’re trying to reach will help you decide on whether you should look into SMS-based or mobile apps.

as we move from Gen X and Gen Y to baby boomers, how effective is SMS?

ab: the age of those individuals who are using mobile phones to communicate continues to rise, especially as boomers have grandchildren and want to stay in touch. it’s similar to what we’ve seen with social networking sites. mobile’s being integrated into our society—and although there may be younger natives to the platforms, older adults are using these tools.

would an example of two-way SMS be texting with a personal coach?

ab: that would be a great example. coaching and advice on specific topics (e.g., sexual health for teens) are great uses for two-way SMS/texting. you can get reminders, personalized feedback, etc.

with mobile wellness sites that organizations build, is it important to remove the password so families can easily access?

ab: having fewer access barriers is important in the mobile world. you want consumers to easily use the information. privacy restrictions and basic caution aside, allowing members of the family to access relevant health information without passwords can be very helpful in allowing for great adoption. when you start looking at confidential personal health information/records? that may be an area to have more restriction.

what about the adopt and drop rates of app usage? how do we hook people and keep them?

ab: you need to do your homework about the types of people you’re looking to use your mobile tool. we’re also living in the days of co-creation, where instead of making assumptions, we can go ahead and ask for beta feedback from potential users. that way, we can get an idea of what actually works rather than relying on the “see what sticks” method. user interface design and usability are things to really consider.

we’re just diving into mobile. what are the easiest tools and apps for us to use?

ab: i’d suggest looking at case studies and examples of how it’s been done already for the health world. for example, look at the CDC example about how to set up a text messaging campaign. get a sense of the why first. then you can start to look at the tools to get it done.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie M. Lazarus, MPH May 2, 2011 at 10:20 am

Excellent interview, Fran. I think this is a medium full of opportunity, especially since older adults are using these tools like Andre mentioned. Texas Heart Institute is about to launch its first iPhone/Android app, and I hope we can jump on the text health intervention bandwagon soon.


Andre Blackman May 2, 2011 at 10:44 am

Definitely looking forward to the app from the Texas Heart Institute, Melanie! Keep us posted as we can probably start doing some case studies or interviews of people in health related organizations who successfully launch and implemented mobile.

How does that sound Fran? Joint interviews on Pulse + Signal and Free Range?



fran May 2, 2011 at 11:14 am

melanie, i’d love to say these questions were mine. they came from the #co_health community during our april chat. congrats on your app! i’m definitely up for the joint interviews and the continuing series on successful or interesting mobile interventions.



Melanie M. Lazarus, MPH May 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

Sounds fantastic, Andre. I do believe we’ve submitted with Apple and are just waiting for approval. I will keep you posted for sure!


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