Michelle Rogers wants to help hospitals and institutions better understand how health care technology and people interact.
For her New Connections grant from 2012 – 2013, Michelle looked at how EpiSurveyor, a mobile data collection application now called Magpi, might be used to help children who are obese and overweight engage in physical activities.
By using EpiSurveyor, children can document their activities, as well as their reactions to those activities. EpiSurveyor also allows doctors to “ping” participants with health messages throughout the day.
Michelle tailored the tool for patients receiving care at a healthy weight clinic within St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, which serves a medically underserved area of North Philadelphia that is at a greater risk for childhood obesity.
“There was so much potential for this tool,” Michelle explains, “but no one had talked to families about how to use it.”
Similarly, Michelle found that families were not engaging with the hospital’s patient portal, which is connected to patients’ electronic health records. Since her New Connections grant ended, she has been working on training families in the St. Christopher’s waiting room on signing up and engaging with the patient portal. And there’s enough to keep her busy for a lifetime.
“There’s always good and bad things about rolling out new health technologies,” she asserts. “Receiving health information on a phone, for example, is not acceptable for some people. That’s something we need to know so that we can address their needs with a different technology.”
As someone who’s devoted her research to making sense of health technology, Michelle is deeply invested in strengthening integration of health services and systems.
Michelle sees two main divides resulting from this piecemeal system:
- Divide between consumers and clinical institutions. Institutions do not share electronic medical records, unless an individual patient requests that information be transferred.
- Divide in people’s minds between lifestyle choices and disease.
“Recognizing that lifestyle choices — not just the pills we take — contribute to our health is an essential part of building a Culture of Health,” Michelle asserts. “With a more integrated health care system that looks at a broader definition of health, hopefully people will start volunteering information about their lifestyle choices to their health care providers.”
Also since her New Connections grant, Michelle has been to Uganda twice to set up computer labs and centers in areas with limited Internet access to assist in training nurses and midwives on care techniques. The labs will help practitioners enhance their training and learn more techniques remotely when they are away from the national hospital.
- Listen to Michelle speak about mobile health devices in this interview with her local NPR station.