Scientific researchers whose work involves digital health should take note of a new resource at Columbia University. The Digital Health Research Group invites scholars from every discipline to quarterly conversations on digital health assessment and intervention research.
Co-created by Dr. Gertraud Stadler-Queiroz, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health associate research scientist in the department of sociomedical sciences, Dr. Frederick Muench, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry, and Dr. Heather Cole-Lewis, director of health communications research and evaluation at the consultancy ICF International, and past research fellow at Columbia in biomedical informatics, and other researchers, the group actively encourages participation from all over the metropolitan area in one of the fastest growing areas of interdisciplinary study.
Using the MeetUp platform, the group solicits interest from presenters with relevant data and analysis on everything from mobile assessments of alcohol intake to digital exercise tracking to using text messages and mobile apps to facilitate behavior change. “Few emerging areas of research have as diverse an audience as digital health,” said Dr. Stadler-Queiroz, who studies how individuals learn to change their behavior.
Dr. Muench, who develops and tests mobile interventions, says the group began because there were few local groups available for individuals specifically interested in the research and mechanisms of digital interventions. “Those of us working in the health sciences value the chance to engage with peers in business, social work, engineering, journalism, and education, and to learn about the design and development of digital interventions,” said Dr. Muench.
The next MeetUp at the Mailman School will feature presentations on medication adherence. “Only about half of patients living with chronic conditions take medications as prescribed, and many patients do not take advantage of preventive measures available to them. Digital interventions are rapidly changing that equation,” says Dr. Cole Lewis.
Dr. Ronan O’Carroll, from the University of Sterling in Scotland, will discuss an electronic pill cap that helped stroke survivors remember to take their medications—and why the intervention was successful. Dr. Melissa Stockwell, assistant professor of population and family health at the Mailman School, will give an overview of her research into text messaging interventions to improve vaccination rates in children and adolescents. Dr. Stadler will explore the feasibility of an electronic pillbox can help cancer patients keep track multiple medications.