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Fostering Greater Use of Digital Health Technology for Healthier Moms and Families


Strengthening digital readiness and the ability to use digital health solutions is a critical step in increasing patient engagement and reinforcing their connection with health care providers. Recognizing that patients who are engaged in their health care and treatment often experience better health outcomes, the Helen Wallace Center for Maternal and Child Health at the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health, in partnership with the Public Health Institute, published a study in the Journal of International Medical Research exploring the influences on patient engagement in the digital space.

Explore their findings in the new, interactive LiveStories article.

The study aims to better understand the dynamics that affect the adoption and use of digital health tools and better grasp the psychological motivators that lead to greater digital readiness and engagement. They focused their study on first-time pregnant women and mothers caring for children under the age of five, as evidence shows that these populations have a strong desire to acquire health information and seek social support through digital health tools.

Examining Digital Health Use Among Low-Income Pregnant Women and New Mothers

Researchers conducted community listening sessions at three sites across the U.S.—San Francisco Bay Area, New York's South Bronx district, and West Louisville in Kentucky—that focused on how participants experience and use technology for managing their health and/or their children’s health. By investigating how these women interact with tools such as websites, apps, wearables, social networks, video chats, and patient portals, researchers hoped to uncover insights that could be used to support both consumers and providers in electronic patient engagement and inform the future design, adoption, and utilization of digital health technology.

See the study findingsThe article also includes recommendations for the health field, potential partners and funders, and developers of digital tools to advance a whole-systems approach to digital health technology—one that that not only requires the development of better tools, but also creates a better foundation among all consumers for digital readiness, trust in technology, and stronger personal agency in attending to one’s health needs.

See the original study, Listening to Communities: Mixed-Method Study of the Engagement of Disadvantaged Mothers and Pregnant Women With Digital Health Technologies, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and co-authored by Sylvia Guendelman, Andrew Broderick, Hmellisa Mlo, Alison Gemmill and David Lindeman.