New Study Supports Using Smartphone Apps to Improve STI Notification, Patient Engagement

LOS ANGELES (October 3, 2017) On the heels of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) calling for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase STD prevention funding and reprioritize promoting condom usage following the release of its          2016 sexually transmitted disease surveillance report that found rates of new infections of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea all increased in 2016, AHF’s Director of Advocacy and Policy Research Adam Carl Cohen, PhD, MPH, has co-authored a research article that found that the implementation of Healthvana—an online patient engagement platform and smartphone application—reduced the number of days between sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and notification at AHF’s Wellness Centers in California and Florida.

Co-authored with Frederick Zimmerman, PhD; Michael Prelip, DPA, MPH, CHES, CPH; and Deborah Glik, ScD, the report, entitled “A Smartphone Application to Reduce Time-to-Notification of Sexually Transmitted Infections” and published online before print on September 21, 2017 in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), found that “Healthvana implementation was significantly associated with a nearly one third reduction in the mean number of days from test to notification”.

“This study shows that smartphone applications like Healthvana are promising technologies to ensure clients, especially younger populations who have grown up using smartphones, apps, other means of digital communication, are successfully and immediately notified of their STI test results,” explains Cohen. “We believe that the prompt notification of positive STI test results by Healthvana might make it easier to reach and engage with populations most at-risk for STI acquisition. The evidence suggests that incorporating apps into STI testing and notification models may be able to assist in improving regular STI testing behaviors (e.g., quarterly reminders to get tested) and ultimately reduce the further spread of STIs.”

“As reported rates of STIs continue to increase all over the country, public health officials must obviously recommit and intensify their efforts to promote condom usage and encourage regular STI screening and treatment,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, AHF’s Senior Director of Public Health. ”AHF continues to pursue strategies and technologies to help break down barriers to STI testing.”

AHF provides free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV at 21 AHF Wellness Centers in eight U.S. states. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit http://www.freestdcheck.org.