Idris MY, Korin M, Araya F, et al. Including the Public in Public eHealth: The Need for Community Participation in the Development of State-Sponsored COVID-19-Related Mobile Apps. JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth. 2022 Mar;10(3):e30872. DOI: 10.2196/30872. PMID: 35113793.
The COVID-19 epidemic has swamped healthcare systems globally, especially in communities of color with high prevalence of pre-existing conditions. Many state governments and healthcare organizations responded by expanding telemedicine capabilities and developing illness tracking smartphone apps. Based on our observations, many state-sponsored eHealth technologies did not involve community participation, thereby contributing to the growing digital health inequities. We propose that as the use of eHealth tools grows, more emphasis be paid to their equitable distribution, accessibility, and use. We offer our experience engaging in a Community Advisory Board working on the dissemination of the COVID Alert NY mobile app to show the relevance of public participation in app development. We also offer suggestions for involving community members in the app development process. We argue that involving communities in the app creation process enhances buy-in, trust, and utilization of digital technology in communities where it is most needed.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.