Collaborate.Health Faculty Host Session at APHA

At the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Dr. James Wolff, Rose Molina, Emily George and Pawandeep Kuar hosted a session for the Academic and Practice Linkages in Public Health Caucus. Their panel, Delivering Mobile Solutions for Global Health Problems through Classroom Partnerships with Universities, Global Health Agencies and Technology Companies, began with a presentation by Dr. Wolff describing a master’s level course at Boston University School of Public Health that partners with public health organizations and a technology company to design and develop mobile applications that address real global health challenges.

Dr. Wolff noted that since he and Jon Payne began teaching this course six years ago more than 150 students have worked with thirty organizations to build 35 unique mobile apps in more than twenty countries.

Using Mobile Technologies to Improve Health Outcomes works with partner organizations that have an identified need for a mobile application and an interest in partnering with the course.

Before the course begins, the course faculty works with the partner organization to develop terms of reference for the mobile application. The terms of reference describe the need for the application, provides the context in which the application will be used, and requests a set of deliverables including a functioning mobile application, an implementation guide and a user’s manual.

Once the course begins, a team of four-five students forms a consulting team and works with their partner organization applying the principals of digital design to develop the mobile app. Most applications are built on Commcare, a mobile application platform, developed by Dimagi. As the technology partner for the course, Dimagi worked with the course faculty to customize an online application-building course that the students take to gain basic skills for application development before the start of the class. Dimagi offers, in addition, a professional certificate for application building with completion of the online course and submission and successful review of the application created during the course.

The panel focused on telling the story of building a mobile application for one of our practice-based partnerships with Partners in Health (PIH) and Ariadne Labs.  Rose Molina spoke about the need for providing respectful maternal care during labor and delivery in the Chiapas clinic using the Better Birth Checklist developed by the World Health Organization and implemented in Chiapas by Ariadne Labs working with PIH.

Download the slide presentation from APHA.