From Smartphones and watches to wearable fitness monitors, people have never had so many options when it comes to measuring their activity levels and health. Additionally, there are myriad resources that provide information for healthier living habits. But frequently those tools are out of reach for many communities. That’s why it’s important to bring successful models of community engagement in public health and research to the world of digital technology.
Public health agencies and organizations in the United States have historically championed a method called “community based participatory research.” This method of health program design shifts away from the one-sided power of research institutions, toward a model of shared power with communities. In this way, organizations and communities aim to design better, more impactful health programs with community members at the center.
Though this research practice has been around for decades, it’s rarely used in tech. That is where the collaboration between Evidation and Project TECH is unique. Evidation and Project TECH, a faith-based organization in South Carolina serving an intergenerational community with reach throughout the Southeast, have joined forces to create an innovative co-learning environment designed to help eliminate barriers to using digital technologies to promote healthy behaviors and participate in research.
Here’s how it works: Project TECH community members learn more about how to integrate health and technology from Evidation, and Evidation learns from Project TECH’s community members who share useful feedback about barriers and perceived value of integrating health and technology, as well as feedback on Evidation’s app and digital health programs. The synergy is rooted in shared power, shared values, and a vital exchange of learnings.
One example of this synergy is how Evidation’s Heart Health program aligns with Project TECH’s mission to promote healthy habits. A primary goal of the Project TECH community is to help its members attain personal health goals with specific focus on heart health and diabetes. By using Evidation’s Heart Health program, members can integrate their health activity, such as steps, mood, and other wearable device data, in order to receive a downloadable report to discuss with their care teams. Evidation benefits from gaining a better understanding of how this community uses and derives value from the program, and can thus improve their offerings.
“The collaboration is especially meaningful in its focus on the relationship between racial equity and health equity,” says Bray Patrick-Lake, Evidation’s Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships. “We know that in addition to the vast health inequities experienced by our country’s Black and African American communities, people of color are also underrepresented in health research due to historical mistreatment, which is to everyone’s detriment. This collaboration aims to not only generate shared learnings, but to also create opportunities for Project TECH’s members to participate in health research in the comfort of their own home, in a way that respects and protects their privacy and personal information.”
“Our collaboration with Evidation is grounded in the understanding that while so many health disparities are due to systemic issues outside of our daily control, together we can focus on what is in our control - investing in our health, and investing in our communities,” says Sarah Walker, Director of Project TECH. “This is at the heart of Project TECH’s mission to integrate health, technology and education to uplift our members and provide meaningful opportunities that will influence the well-being of all ages and sectors of the community.”