#TechniHealth – Health Promotion in the Digital Era

#TechniHealth – Health Promotion in the Digital Era

The seminar was chaired by Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales during the morning sessions and by Malcolm Ward, Principal Health Promotion Specialist for Public Health Wales in the afternoon. It was held on 27 February 2017 at Techniquest in Cardiff.

The first presentation was from Peter Jones, Deputy Director in Digital Health and Care for the Welsh Government. His presentation focused on the Welsh Government’s health strategy going forward, including enabling members of the public to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing.

The second presentation featured two speakers, Dr Kelly Mackintosh and Dr Melitta McNarry, both senior lecturers in Sports Science at Swansea University. Dr Mackintosh spoke of physical activity amongst children, and the guidelines on sedentary behaviour. This featured a study of the BMI changes in 3 year olds over time in a specific geographical location. Dr McNarry focused on the concept of using commonly available game console technology such as Microsoft’s Kinect camera for the Xbox for interventions with a focus on Cystic Fibrosis high intensity exercises.

Dr Pelham Carter, lecturer in Applied Psychology from Birmingham City University spoke for the third presentation, which was on the research paradigm for taking theory through to targeted app based interventions. Dr Carter’s presentation touched on the issues to do with app and technology interventions, their impact and the Stern Report.

The fourth presentation was by Julia Bailey, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care at UCL. Her presentation touched on mobile phone and web intervention in the realm of digital health with a particular focus on sexual health and behaviour change interventions for young people, including cognitive behaviour therapy and systemic therapy. 

The final speaker of the day was David Crane, a researcher from UCL. He provided insight into the design and study of a smoke free app, as well as his previous work on an alcohol consumption app. He spoke of app development, including determining user needs through behaviour science and the study of other apps

Following the final session, the speakers fielded questions from those present as well as discussing the pros and cons of using Apps and Technology for Health Promotion.

The discussion covered groups that were at higher risk online; the accessibility available via mobile to younger people; the risk of misdiagnosis through apps; the stress on reliability, data security and the responsibility of app developers. There was also talk of the juxtaposition of physical activity versus app use and the role of ‘gamification’. The panel also discussed the closing down of libraries as social hubs and in some cases the main source of internet access for small communities. The speakers discussed what was and wasn’t reasonably measurable and able to be monitored, such as sexual health compared to physical activity. The need for consistency across health boards and the coverage they provided in terms of digital health services was also touched upon. A final point raised was that of instead of building a platform for discussion, to instead use a pre-existing platform where users already have a presence, such as Facebook. 

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