Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Sharing Innovations to Advance Public Health

Sharing Innovations to Advance Public Health

Project Manager

I've gone to the American Public Health Association's annual meeting for the past two years, and I always find that I learn plenty of new things. This year, the scenario was a little different, because I spent upwards of two hours presenting posters for myself and my lovely partner in crime, Alle Nemec. And during those two hours, I came to realize two big things:


1. What we do at MMG, specifically as part of NCI's Smokefree project, is innovative and worth sharing.

2. Our innovations can have a hugely expanded impact if we share them with other people who are fighting the good fight.


The posters that we presented highlighted the newly redesigned website, which is now mobile-responsive and revamped to be visually stimulating and to provide bite-sized chunks of useful information, and the SmokefreeTXT program. SmokefreeTXT has more than 23,000 active subscribers and has shown some truly impressive self-reported quit data. To me, a lot of this information seems old-hat, simply because we work with it on a regular basis, but in reality, there aren't a lot of people or groups, particularly in the government and public health sectors, that have embraced many of the latest technologies available to us as health communicators. Implementing new technology can be daunting, and is challenging to do well, but it was heartening to hear how many people were interested in the possibility of expanding their options to touch on an increasingly mobile audience.


At our poster session about the newly designed mobile-responsive, one women approach us incredibly excited about the potential of doing something similar to the government website that she manages. She mentioned that she had tried to for the site to be more mobile friendly but that others didn't seem to understand why it was important. She was excited to see our data and asked where we got our evidence. Seeing how interested she was in something that to us now seems so normal was really inspiring to see. We shared with her the data both from which we based our decision to go mobile (about 1/3 of cell phone owners access the Internet mostly from their phones) and the data from our redesign. And it encouraged her to re-broach the topic. This is a great example of the kind of conversation that conferences like APHA encourage and allow and will hopefully improve health communications and health outcomes.


We received even more enquiries at our poster on SmokefreeTXT user data. Visitors were intrigued by the program, and many had heard of it before. They wanted copies of the data we had, and asked if it was published (it isn't yet). But many also discussed with us how they were hoping to use text messaging programs in their own work: for weight loss, for substance abuse, for medication compliance. We had great conversations about the utility of text message-based interventions and how we may leverage their interruptive nature for future efforts. I like to think that we inspired other people to explore the potential of mobile health technologies, but we also received valuable feedback and questions that deserved answers--this feedback will, in turn, improve our program.


We are all on the same side in public health, even if at times we seem to be at odds, and conferences like APHA serve as a reminder of this and encourage practitioners to share their experiences and to benefit all.


For more about the 2013 APHA annual meeting, see my colleague Alle Nemec's blog post.

For more about the 2013 APHA annual meeting, see my colleague - See more at:


For more about the 2013 APHA annual meeting, see my colleague - See more at:

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We invite and encourage anyone interested in current public health and health communication trends and issues to join MMG's contributing bloggers in adding their voice to the ongoing discussion about how we can advance health, together.


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