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CTBH Co-Hosts Conference on Application of Mobile Computing Technologies to Health and Wellness

CTBH collaborated with the Institute for Security, Technology, and Society at Dartmouth College and the Center for Digital Strategies at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in hosting a conference on the application of mobile health (mhealth) applications in an evolving healthcare context. An interdisciplinary team gathered at Dartmouth College for this 2-day event, with a key focus on the intersection of mhealth and behavioral health, evolving business models in mhealth, opportunities for mhealth in the developing world, and challenges in securing an mhealth infrastructure.

The conference began with a dinner keynote presentation by Dr. Patricia Mechael, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance (hosted by the United Nations Foundation), whose work in global health has spanned over 30 countries.   Dr. Mechael discussed the rapid growth and promise of mhealth worldwide, but highlighted the critical need to understand how privacy and security policies relate to the use of mobile technologies in healthcare.

Dr. Wendy Nilsen, Health Scientist Administrator at the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), provided a keynote address on the morning of the second day of the meeting. Dr. Nilsen highlighted the ubiquity of mobile technology and the many opportunities for leveraging mobile tools for data collection, health monitoring, delivery of interventions, and diagnosis and clinical support.   She emphasized the promise of mhealth to expand health research and health care beyond the lab to a person’s natural environment and to revolutionize measurement and thereby change diagnostics, treatment, and health at a global level.

The panel on the intersection of mhealth and behavioral health, co-chaired by CTBH Director Lisa A. Marsch, PhD and Dartmouth Computer Science Professor Andrew Campbell, PhD, highlighted the work of CTBH affiliates and collaborators.  The panel discussion focused on the potential for mhealth in an evolving healthcare context in the U.S., with a particular focus on the role that mhealth approaches may have in healthcare delivery systems which integrate physical and behavioral healthcare.   Panelists also discussed models for deploying mhealth tools in healthcare system to increase the quality and reach of evidence-based behavioral healthcare while reducing costs. The panel discussion can be seen here.

The second panel, chaired by Professor Eric Johnson from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, focused on the business aspects of mHealth in light of a changing healthcare context.    Panelists discussed the tremendous promise of a prevention-centered mhealth business model, focused on the prevention of illness and the escalation of health problems.   They additionally discussed the opportunity to leverage mhealth to increase health service capacity to care for the large expected influx of persons who will gain health insurance, as per recent U.S. legislation.   Among the challenges to mhealth business models, panelists discussed the limited interoperability between systems (e.g., difficulty in ensuring that data can seamlessly flow between mHealth devices and electronic health systems).

The third panel was chaired by David Kotz, PhD, Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.  This panel focused on the benefits of mobile technologies to promote wellness and vitality, monitor health, and provide healthcare, especially in areas of the world where healthcare would be otherwise inaccessible to a large fraction of the population.   Several applications were discussed, including those focused on improving access and lowering costs of care, disseminating health information, enabling distributed data collection, and facilitating personal health management, behavior change communication, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring.

The final panel, chaired by Andrés Molina-Markham, PhD from the Computer Science Department at Dartmouth College, identified several outstanding challenges of securing mHealth devices and infrastructure.   Innovative strategies for protecting user privacy and for developing authentication, access-control, and authorization systems were discussed.

The conference received generous support from the Center for Digital Strategies at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Dartmouth Conferences.

All panels are available for viewing here.  A detailed report from this conference was published in the August 2013 edition of IEEE Security & Privacy.