skip to Main Content
design lab john torous healthcare app

Studio Session with John Torous – Engagement as #1 Barrier to Health Apps

Studio Session with John Torous – Engagement as #1 Barrier to Health Apps

Studio Session with John Torous – Engagement as #1 Barrier to Health Apps

Design Lab Studio Session: Engagement as #1 Barrier for Health Apps: The Urgent Need for Collaborative Solution

John Torous, Harvard Medical School

It’s been 10 years since the iPhone was first introduced and the app ecosystem has grown tremendously. Mobile phones serve as a digital platform that is rich with advances in many industries, but healthcare seems to fall short. In a recent discussion at the Design Lab, John Torous, co-director of the Digital Psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital, examined this problem. “We have these really fancy learning machines that operate on algorithms and sensors, but if they’re not being used it doesn’t matter much,” said Torous.

A recent academic study asked primary care patients, “Are you interested in using apps for your healthcare?” 54 percent said yes for issues related to nutrition, 53 percent said yes for issues related to diseases and 25 percent said yes for issues related to mental health. Torous explained that while it appears that many primary care patients are interested in using apps for healthcare, there isn’t much movement in this direction. Torous aims to transfer and sustain the same enthusiasm for PokemonGo, which was a mega successful gaming app, toward health care apps.

Torous stated that there is a tremendous “engagement gap” that needs to be addressed with healthcare apps. He pointed out that PTSDcoach is a popular healthcare app that helps patients manage their own recovery and has been downloaded over 100,000 times, but only about 15,000 people use it.

Torous theorizes that integrating apps into everyday use  is no simple feat because it involves many other issues including the security of personal information and the dynamic nature of the app ecosystem itself.  As sophisticated the problem may be, Torous suggests a simple approach to discover solutions. “How can we get some simple information from users, share it and get feedback. We don’t have to predict everything right away.” Although digital engagement in healthcare may be small, Torous also suggests there may be a solution in engaging “superusers.” A superuser is a network account with privilege levels far beyond those of most user accounts. He says let’s start there, we can learn from them.

Bio
John Torous is a board-certified psychiatrist with a background in electrical engineering and computer sciences. He completed medical school at UCSD, residency at Harvard, and is currently a fellow in clinical informatics at Harvard Medical School. His research is at the intersection of mental health and technology with a focus on smartphone apps and wearable sensors.

Design Lab Studio Session: Engagement as #1 Barrier for Health Apps: The Urgent Need for Collaborative Solution

John Torous, Harvard Medical School

It’s been 10 years since the iPhone was first introduced and the app ecosystem has grown tremendously. Mobile phones serve as a digital platform that is rich with advances in many industries, but healthcare seems to fall short. In a recent discussion at the Design Lab, John Torous, co-director of the Digital Psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital, examined this problem. “We have these really fancy learning machines that operate on algorithms and sensors, but if they’re not being used it doesn’t matter much,” said Torous.

A recent academic study asked primary care patients, “Are you interested in using apps for your healthcare?” 54 percent said yes for issues related to nutrition, 53 percent said yes for issues related to diseases and 25 percent said yes for issues related to mental health. Torous explained that while it appears that many primary care patients are interested in using apps for healthcare, there isn’t much movement in this direction. Torous aims to transfer and sustain the same enthusiasm for PokemonGo, which was a mega successful gaming app, toward health care apps.

Torous stated that there is a tremendous “engagement gap” that needs to be addressed with healthcare apps. He pointed out that PTSDcoach is a popular healthcare app that helps patients manage their own recovery and has been downloaded over 100,000 times, but only about 15,000 people use it.

Torous theorizes that integrating apps into everyday use  is no simple feat because it involves many other issues including the security of personal information and the dynamic nature of the app ecosystem itself.  As sophisticated the problem may be, Torous suggests a simple approach to discover solutions. “How can we get some simple information from users, share it and get feedback. We don’t have to predict everything right away.” Although digital engagement in healthcare may be small, Torous also suggests there may be a solution in engaging “superusers.” A superuser is a network account with privilege levels far beyond those of most user accounts. He says let’s start there, we can learn from them.

Bio
John Torous is a board-certified psychiatrist with a background in electrical engineering and computer sciences. He completed medical school at UCSD, residency at Harvard, and is currently a fellow in clinical informatics at Harvard Medical School. His research is at the intersection of mental health and technology with a focus on smartphone apps and wearable sensors.

Design Lab Studio Session: Engagement as #1 Barrier for Health Apps: The Urgent Need for Collaborative Solution

John Torous, Harvard Medical School

It’s been 10 years since the iPhone was first introduced and the app ecosystem has grown tremendously. Mobile phones serve as a digital platform that is rich with advances in many industries, but healthcare seems to fall short. In a recent discussion at the Design Lab, John Torous, co-director of the Digital Psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital, examined this problem. “We have these really fancy learning machines that operate on algorithms and sensors, but if they’re not being used it doesn’t matter much,” said Torous.

A recent academic study asked primary care patients, “Are you interested in using apps for your healthcare?” 54 percent said yes for issues related to nutrition, 53 percent said yes for issues related to diseases and 25 percent said yes for issues related to mental health. Torous explained that while it appears that many primary care patients are interested in using apps for healthcare, there isn’t much movement in this direction. Torous aims to transfer and sustain the same enthusiasm for PokemonGo, which was a mega successful gaming app, toward health care apps.

Torous stated that there is a tremendous “engagement gap” that needs to be addressed with healthcare apps. He pointed out that PTSDcoach is a popular healthcare app that helps patients manage their own recovery and has been downloaded over 100,000 times, but only about 15,000 people use it.

Torous theorizes that integrating apps into everyday use  is no simple feat because it involves many other issues including the security of personal information and the dynamic nature of the app ecosystem itself.  As sophisticated the problem may be, Torous suggests a simple approach to discover solutions. “How can we get some simple information from users, share it and get feedback. We don’t have to predict everything right away.” Although digital engagement in healthcare may be small, Torous also suggests there may be a solution in engaging “superusers.” A superuser is a network account with privilege levels far beyond those of most user accounts. He says let’s start there, we can learn from them.

Bio
John Torous is a board-certified psychiatrist with a background in electrical engineering and computer sciences. He completed medical school at UCSD, residency at Harvard, and is currently a fellow in clinical informatics at Harvard Medical School. His research is at the intersection of mental health and technology with a focus on smartphone apps and wearable sensors.

Read Next

Surveillance Technology San Diego

In San Diego, ‘Smart’ Streetlights Spark Surveillance Reform

Photo: Google Streetview

Lilly Irani, Design Lab member and UCSD Communications professor, was recently quoted in a Bloomberg City Lab piece on surveillance in San Diego. Read more about the "smart streetlight" program, privacy concerns, and new legislation efforts here.

“With body-worn cameras, and with the streetlights footage, and with drone footage, the people who have the money to maintain those technologies and control the data flow of those technologies get to control who gets access to the footage and who gets to narrate its public meaning,” said Irani.
Trolley Stops Designathon UCSD Design Lab

Designathon Seeks to Reimagine Trolley Stops

On April 6+7, 2019, on UC San Diego campus Warren Mall, over 200+ students, neighbors, designers, technologists, and media-makers will come together for the Pepper Canyon Mobility Hub Designathon, an event developing proposals that will support the transformation Pepper Canyon Trolley Station at UCSD campus, currently under construction, into a dynamic, multimodal mobility hub. The event is produced through a partnership between The UC San Diego Design Lab, SANDAG, UC San Diego Campus Planning, the UC San Diego Young Planners’ Society, Sixth College Culture, Art, Technology program, and UC San Diego Urban Planning Program.
Design Lab Ucsd Lara Mangravite

Future of Public Health Research: Joint-Collaboration Event Sparks Agile Healthcare Discussion

This past May, the Design Lab hosted The Future of Public Health Research event in…

Design Lab Communitycrit Narges Mahyar Steven Dow

CommunityCrit Gives Community Members a Newfound Voice

Actively engaging the public in urban design planning is essential to both establishing a strong…

Anna McCowan Melanie McComsey Ucsd Design Lab

UK Markey Center and UCSD Seek to Improve Cancer Care with LAUNCH

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans living in rural areas are more likely to die of cancer than their counterparts in urban settings, which sets them apart from the many communities nationwide that have experienced a 20 percent decrease in cancer mortality over the past two decades. In Appalachia, the cancer picture is bleaker than in other rural parts of the country. Between 1969 and 2011, cancer incidence declined in every region of the country except rural Appalachia, and mortality rates soared.

This week (Monday, June 17th, 2019) an Innovation Studio workshop was held at the PRTC center announcing a program called LAUNCH.
Design Lab Michael Meyer Navy Thebridge

Design Lab Faculty Reflects on Inspiring the First Design-Thinking Workshop on a Warship

By Michael Meyer A few months ago, Naval Air Force Cmdr. Jeremy Vellon participated in a design-thinking…

Back To Top