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The Open Digital Health initiative – Extending the life of evidence-based digital health tools

By Emma Norris, on 16 July 2019

By Dominika Kwasnicka – SWPS University, Poland

The non-for-profit Open Digital Health initiative (www.opendigitalhealth.org) has started to encourage health scientists, practitioners, and technology developers to share evidence-based digital health tools. We are creating a searchable database of descriptions of evidence-based tools, apps, websites, devices, to allow digital health to grow faster, be cheaper and more transparent across the countries. And here is why are we setting it up.

A story about evidence-based tools that die too early…

Here is a story (and you may have heard a very similar one before): A group of researchers in the UK gets a funding grant to develop an app. Their aim is to promote physical activity in older people. They outsource a company to code the app. They review literature, design the app and test it with the users. They run a study with 150 people who use the app and with 150 who do not, and they show that this app was somehow effective. After a year, they publish an article and they put the app aside. It does not get much publicity or downloads, does not get updated and it dies after the funding period. Sad times. But does this sound familiar? 


An alternative ending: Open, Transparent and Shared Digital Health

And here is an alternative ending to the story you just heard: The same group of researchers is keen to share their work. They have the codes for the app, the content and all anonymised user data they’ve gathered. They don’t have time or money to take it forward but they list the descriptions of the app, code, content and data gathered on the Open Digital Health platform where other users can see it.
A group of researchers in Spain wants to promote physical activity in older people. They browse the Open Digital Health platform and locate the app created by the first group. They get in touch with the authors and ask for the permission to adapt the app considering 
appropriate licensing. They get it granted, translate the app to Spanish, use it with 300 people, get feedback, modify it, test it, and then show that the new app is even more effective than the original version. They publish the results, acknowledge the original authors and list the information about the app back on the Open Digital Health platform together with more information about new translated content.  Then a group of researchers in Chile finds the app on the platform and the story goes on…


Tell us what do you think!
We are passionate about digital health and we aim to make it more accessible for all. Sharing digital health tools will provide cost-effective opportunities for faster breakthroughs. We are asking you to fill in the survey (<2 minutes) to let us know if you want to join or give us your feedback:
https://rsearch.eu/ls3/234982. Or simply leave a comment under this blog post and we will get back to you.


The Creators Team of the Open Digital Health initiative is led by Robbert Sanderman, Dominika Kwasnicka, Rik Crutzen, Gjalt Jorn Peters and Gill ten Hoor. We are inviting you to join us. Keep in touch if you have any comments/questions: info@digitalhealth.eu or dkwasnicka@swps.edu.pl



1.      What are your thoughts on the Open Digital Health initiative and sharing digital health tools (e.g., a way forward or no way I will not share any of my stuff!)

2.      Would you like to join us as a Supporter, Leader, or do you have tools you would like to share with us and list on the platform? If the answer is yes, please comment here or email us on: info@digitalhealth.eu or dkwasnicka@swps.edu.pl

3.      What would you like to see on this platform? We are open for your suggestions!



Dr Dominika Kwasnicka (@dkwasnicka) is a Health Psychology researcher at SWPS University in Wroclaw, Poland. Her overall research interest is maintenance of behaviour change in public health. Her main research interest lies in exploring motives for behaviour maintenance, habits, self-regulation, and coping with behavioural barriers. She is interested in determining how environment and social networks influence human behaviour and how availability of physical and psychological resources shapes how people change and maintain health behaviours. Her research to date makes three key contributions to the field of Health Psychology and Behavioural Science by: (1) Integrating and summarising multiple theories of behaviour change maintenance looking at key predictors of maintained health behaviour change; (2) Testing and advancing these theoretical predictors in systematically developed studies and evidence-based interventions focusing on physical activity, diet and weight loss maintenance; (3) Contributing to the development of novel research methods employing novel research designs such as within-person N-of-1 studies and data prompted interviews; using most recent eHealth technologies. She is an active member of European Health Psychology Society and a Head Editor of the Practical Health Psychology Blog published worldwide in 20 different languages: www.practicalhealthpsychology.com, online publication for healthcare practitioners about cutting edge Health Psychology and how to apply it in practice. 


One Response to “The Open Digital Health initiative – Extending the life of evidence-based digital health tools”

  • 1
    Browning Rockwell wrote on 3 September 2019:

    I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the Open Digital Health Initiative and how we might collaborate. Let’s schedule a Skype call at your convenience.

    I am the Founder of WeWa.life, a personal health navigation platform.
    WeWa.life is a smart health community. Smart health communities (SHCs) are defined as containing some or all the following core features:

    They empower individuals to proactively manage their health and well-being;
    They foster a sense of community and belonging;
    They use digital technology and behavioral science;
    They use data to meaningfully improve outcomes; and
    They create new and innovative ecosystems.

    Our challenge: create a unified, digital health experience that allows the health consumer to, from a familiar, personalized standpoint, navigate across their health journey using a single interface.

    Our objective: Make the WeWa.life user in control, informed, entertained, engaged and activated around the most important thing in their life – their health.
    Health should be an economic strategy for all.

    Browning Rockwell

    Tel: 202 256 5732
    E: browningr@wewa.life
    W: http://www.wewa.life/
    Twitter: @CHNP4P

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