mPulse Mobile and Mount Sinai collaborate to reduce adolescent diabetes

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The rising levels of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in American youth is quickly becoming a major public health concern. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 210,000 of the estimated 26.9 million Americans with diagnosed diabetes in 2018 were children and adolescents younger than age 20. To help address this problem, New York City-based Mount Sinai is adopting a tech approach. It is partnering with mPulse Mobile, a company that sells its AI-based mobile patient messaging platform to health plans and health systems. Together with a group of teenage community members, the two partners have created a text message-based youth diabetes prevention program focused on integrating healthy behaviors into teens’ lives.

Growing public health concerns are being raised by the increased rates of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes among young people in the United States. Mount Sinai collaborated with mPulse Mobile, a provider of an AI-based mobile patient messaging technology, to help solve this issue. They developed a text message-based youth diabetes prevention programme with a group of teenage community members that aimed to incorporate healthy practises into teens’ daily life.

Highlights

  • To “bend the trend,” as Nicholson put it, Mount Sinai and mPulse began working with a group of teenage community members living in East Harlem to develop text messaging campaigns focused on diabetes prevention. The partners wanted to work with East Harlem teens for two reasons, the first being that the neighborhood has one of the highest rates of diabetes in New York City. The other reason is that the area is racially diverse — an important consideration Black and Brown communities are more vulnerable to diabetes.

  • The partnership began after Dr. Nita Vangeepuram, a pediatrician and researcher at Mount Sinai, attended a webinar near the tail end of 2017 in which mPulse was explaining its technology. She reached out to the company to see how they could collaborate to address rising levels of youth diabetes, which she thinks is a widely overlooked issue in medicine. Chris Nicholson, mPulse’s founder and CEO, said he still remembers a shocking statistic Dr. Vangeepuram shared with him during those initial talks: that roughly half of U.S. youth are projected to have diabetes by 2050 unless healthcare providers deploy targeted interventions.

Mount Sinai and mPulse involved East Harlem teens throughout the entire process of building the texting program, employing an approach Dr. Vangeepuram called the “youth participatory action research framework.” She said this refers to the idea that young people should be actively involved in research meant to create a positive change in their health.

Before developing the texting program, Dr. Vangeepuram conducted qualitative research with teenage subjects to determine which mobile technology is most effective at reaching teens. They reported they would rather access health content through texting than social media or apps. Teens told her that they preferred texting because it was a mode of communication they already used frequently and it did not require them to log in or download something.

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