By: Felasfa Wodajo, MD and Perry W. Payne, Jr., MD/JD/MPP

This year’s Medicine 2.0 Congress was the largest ever with over 500 attendees enjoying 300 presentations by speakers from 26 countries. The conference, focussed on social media, mobile apps, internet/web 2.0 and biomedical research, was a feast of information for anyone interested in the future of mobile health. And, by focussing on clinical research and results , it was a terrific antidote to the overabundance of disruption claims, unencumbered by evidence, in healthcare.

This year, we collaborated with the conference organizers to offer the first iMedicalApps-Medicine 2.0 mHealth Research Award. The process of picking the winner was daunting. In the end, the judges felt these two studies provided the most compelling combination of innovation and rigor in demonstrating the use of mobile health to improve outcomes.

In front of a packed house, we were proud to announce the winner as Morwenna Kirwan and her colleagues for their presentation titled “Randomized Controlled Trial of a Diabetes Self-Management SmartPhone App for Patients with Type 1 Diabetes”. The study had a stunning, and surprisingly good, outcome. Read below to see what it showed.

The goal of the iMedicalApps-Medicine 2.0 mHealth Research was to recognize the best paper on “the use of mobile or wireless technologies in the diagnosis or treatment of disease, healthcare professional communication/care coordination or clinician-directed wellness behavior modification.”

In addition to the winner, honorable mention was given to Alexander Börve and his colleagues for “Teledermoscopy through a Smartphone App”. The accompanying articles on iMedicalApps for the two papers can be seen here and here.

Morwenna Kirwan is a researcher at the Institute for Health and Social Sciences Research, Central Queensland University in Rockhampton, Australia. She worked with her colleagues at Central Queensland University (Corneel Vandelanotte, Mitch J Duncan, and Andrew Fenning) to assess whether the use of a freely available diabetes smartphone app Glucose Buddy combined with support from a credentialed diabetes educator improved self-management of diabetes, glycemic control and quality of life in poorly controlled patients with Type 1 diabetes. Their primary outcomes measure for improvement in glycemic control was the glycated hemoglobin tests, commonly known as HbA1c.

Through a randomized controlled trial they demonstrated a significant decrease in HbA1c from 9.08 (± 1.18) to 7.80 (± 0.75) at nine month follow-up. A control group demonstrated no change (baseline M = 8.47 ± 0.86, follow-up M = 8.58 ± 1.16).

For their study, they recruited nearly 200 people of which 72 were randomized into intervention vs usual care groups. Patients would log their blood glucose, insulin diet and activity. In addition to usual care, the intervention group was given an iPhone app and reguarly contacted via text messages by a certified diabetes educator. The educator sent text messages about twice a week, with the content depending on patients’ data. The intervention ran for six months. Interestingly the HbA1c continued to fall in the last three months of the study after the SMS messages stopped, suggesting the education may have persistent effect.

Morwenna told the audience that a 1% reduction in HbA1c – what they demonstrated in their study – is associated with 25% reduction in retinal degeneration and 39% reduction in kidney disease. Therefore, these are remarkable findings.

Alexander Borve, is a a PhD student in telemedicine and an orthopaedic surgeon from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. Along with his colleagues Carin Sandberg, MD, Karin Terstappen, PhD, John Paoli, PhD, they showed remarkable concordance between dermatologists evaluating skin lesions in person versus remotely via an iPhone app and dermascope. They found equivalent diagnostic accuracy by one teledermoscopist for all 69 lesions and for 68 out of 69 lesions (98.6%) by another teledermoscopist. Alexander is starting a company to market this product.

Selecting a winner from this group was quite difficult. The factors used to assess the abstracts of award finalists were innovation, impact, scalability, and scientific rigor. One unique feature of this award is that all finalists were required to submit blog posts to iMedicalApps. The judges for the award were iMedicalApps editors Felasfa Wodajo, MD & Perry Payne, MD/JD/MPP with Kevin Clauson, PharmD and Lisa Gualtieri, PhD. We would like to thank all the applicants for their efforts.

Below is an alphabetical list of all the finalists and links to their blog posts.

[some images above (c) Gunther Eysenbach,, licensed under cc-by 3.0 (Creative Commons Attribution license 3.0)]