You CAN Take it With You: Going Mobile for Health

On Wednesday June 11th, over 40 librarians from health care institutions across the GTA got together at the University of Toronto to learn about app development.  This was a joint event sponsored by the Toronto Health Libraries Association (THLA) and the Health Science Information Consortium of Toronto (HSICT).

The session began with a keynote address from Michelle Hamilton-Page from CAMH.  This dynamic speaker gave an overview of developing public health interventions that fit into the ways people currently use technology.  The newly released app “Saying When” (released June 4, 2014) was featured.  This allows people to self monitor and reduce or stop drinking.  It is based on a proven 20 year old program and is now a top selling medical app.

The second part of the day consisted of a panel of developers: one librarian, two social workers and one clinical engineer.  The theme of creating apps that met users where they were already using technology remained strong.  Ron MacPherson, the Electronic Services Librarian from UHN developed “Find Cancer Resources“, a curated list of free resources for physicians without access to paid subscription services.  Next social workers Marisa Cicero and Amanda Hignell presented “My Baby and Me Passport“, which was designed for precariously housed pregnant women.  While it was difficult for this transient population to keep up with appointments and locate services, they always had a cellphone.  They realized that the information could be stored in a device they already owned.  The passport helps by providing information on what to expect during pregnancy, tracking appointments and questions and where to get services.  They won the 2014 Microsoft Humanitarian Response Citizenship Award.  Lastly Melanie Yeung presented on the principle of empathy and human factors in design.  The apps were “breathe“, “Bant“, & “Medley“.  All of these apps allow consumers to manage their chronic health conditions more effectively.

For the final portion of the day, the librarians went to the MAD Lab at UofT.  Android and iOS devices were loaded up with apps to compare and evaluate.

Videos of the all of the speakers may be found on the THLA website.

Future Directions

We hope to have more events and focus on some of the mechanics of how to actually make apps.

Submitted by Pam Richards, Team Leader

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