Dr. Jennifer Dyer is no ordinary physician, she is an mHealth pioneer and social media expert known to her legion of Twitter followers as EndoGoddess. Last year I interviewed Dr. Dyer for my white paper on The Social Physician. At the time she was practicing pediatric endocrinology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. During our discussion, she mentioned a pilot texting reminder program she had launched for her teen patients. She was delighted that there was an improvement in medication adherence and reduction in A1C levels over a three-month period. She was eager to implement the program with a wider audience. Fast forward several months. The “aha” moment that she could actually bring her diabetes app to life came during last March’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin. After appearing on a health panel, she was surrounded by investors and companies interested in discussing how to commercialize or license the tool. Until then she had not been convinced that there was a market for the mobile app, but the reception at SXSW opened her eyes to the possibilities. Concurrently she had observed that some of the initial gains her patients made began to disappear. The researcher in her hypothesized that the teens needed more than reminders to succeed.
Filled with enthusiasm from SXSW and recognizing there was more work to do, Dr. Dyer decided to leave full-time practice to devote all her energy to building out EndoGoddess, the diabetes app. As she pointed out, “This is a really big opportunity to make a difference in healthcare. Everyone has a phone, and it is great way to streamline medical care.” Another motivator was her belief that doctors must be part of the process. “So many patient tools are developed in isolation, with no physician input. Unless the tools work for both patients and doctors, they are doomed to fail,” she told me.
Dr. Dyer teamed up with Duet Health, an Ohio-based mobile health developer, to complete development of the app. She integrated BJ Fogg’s behavior change model into the design to address the regression she saw among her initial testers. According to the model: Three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. Dr. Dyer realized that her initial app had a trigger (the reminders) but lacked the other two elements.
Dr. Dyer and the team at Duet Health worked diligently to refine EndoGoddess, the mobile app, and launched it publicly on September 21st in the iTunes store. It sells for $.99. The app contains all three elements cited by BJ Fogg for the targeted behavior of checking blood glucose levels 4 times per day. • Motivation comes from iTunes rewards on a weekly basis so that the user can download a song • Education comes from the multimedia content within the app related to diabetes • Triggers come from the app's daily inspiring messages taken from the diabetes online community as well as medication reminders or alarms that each user designates
EndoGoddess the app may be live but it is still very much a work in progress, according to Dr. Dyer. She is already updating it with new features and is eager for user feedback.
There are many ways to keep tabs on Dr. Dyer and her progress with EndoGoddess, her blog and Twitter being two excellent sources. She will also be speaking at Mayo Clinic’s Annual Health Care Social Media Summit in October, BlogWorld in November and the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC in December.
You can also reach her through plain old email at firstname.lastname@example.org.