mHealth App Development

Working with the mHealth Impact Lab and Data2Care Technologies, I am developing and researching a free mobile app that guides parents through a medically-proven technique called oral rehydration therapy.

How the moab app was created

In 2001, I was on a 110-mile bike ride in Canyonlands National Park–near Moab, Utah when my friend and software engineer Shawn Emery experienced heat exhaustion and dehydration. I helped rehydrate Shawn in the remote canyon using the same oral rehydration protocol used in many healthcare settings for the past 50 years.

Sixteen years later, while working with a team of emergency department colleagues to improve care for children with dehydration from gastroenteritis, I recognized that the algorithm-driven sequence of decisions and actions involved in oral rehydration therapy were

  • difficult to communicate effectively and efficiently to caregivers (parents) of children in the emergency department for dehydration related to gastroenteritis
  • difficult for caregivers to follow accurately and efficiently
  • frequently undermining the success of oral rehydration therapy attempts, leading to more intravenous fluids
  • an ideal target for a mobile (smartphone) health app

At the same Shawn had retired after nearly two decades at Oracle, and was seeking to apply his software engineering skills to improving families’ self-care. we revisited the idea of oral rehydration therapy as a powerful yet underused healthcare treatment, and spoke with several dozen parents about their most recent experience rehydrating their children, with guidance from the University of Colorado’s I-Corps program. Based on what they learned from these parents, they began collaborating on an app to guide rehydration in the urgent or emergency care setting. That app, Rehydrate Your Child—Emergency (RYCE) is not currently commercially available, and is in the middle of a pilot trial in an emergency department setting.

We formed Data2Care Technologies and with Staab Design, developed a new user interface, adapted for household use. After hearing the story of origin, from 2001 in the Utah desert, Dave Staab came up with the name, “moab”, to reflect both the initial dehydration narrative and the theme of hydration in a dehydrated setting. This version of the app, moab, was released for free public use on May 31, 2018.

In September 2019, I was awarded a Phase I STTR Grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Development to further the research and development on the oral rehydration app. In October 2019, I was awarded the Technological Innovations in Pediatric Emergency Medicine Award for my work on the moab app.

About Oral Rehydration Therapy

Acute gastroenteritis (AGE)–infectious diarrhea—is a common condition that is costly in the US and high- mortality in developing nations. The cornerstone of AGE management is oral rehydration therapy (ORT), an evidence-based technique that has saved over 54 million lives in the 50 years since its introduction. The problem we aim to address is ORT’s underuse in developed countries—specifically in the home setting. If widely adopted, ORT could reduce 80% of AGE-related healthcare visits and costs among children, eliminating 1.3 million emergency department visits and $1.5 billion in hospital costs annually. 

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