2015 The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Small Newsroom winner

Mobile Health: Apps for Every Age and Ouch


About the Project

“Wherever there’s a mobile signal, there’s a potential for better health care,” says Eric Topol, author of the book, “The Patient Will See You Now,” a book about the mobile future of medicine.

Topol uses a Gutenberg printing press analogy to explain how smartphones are forever changing health and medicine. Just as the printing press made information available to the common man, the smartphone is creating “democratized, bottom­-up medicine” for all of us. No longer are we dependent solely on health care providers to manage our health.

More of us are using smartphones than ever — almost two­-thirds of American adults now own one. That means more of us have access to this “democratized” version of the health care system that Topol envisions.

This interactive journalism project allows viewers to explore how mobile health and medical apps are affecting people at every age and life stage. Viewers of this site scroll down to watch characters age through a lifetime, with each character using a different app for a particular health ailment or medical situation.

Viewers scroll through 11 different characters/life stages, where they learn about what health issue each character is facing at a particular point in time. Then, viewers learn about a health or medical app that correlates to that particular issue — ranging from a mental health app to an app that produces at-home electrocardiograms. In most cases, viewers then scroll to see or hear from a consumer or health care provider who uses that particular app.

Throughout the site, viewers read information and statistics about the cost impacts and prevalence of the health and medical conditions that each app addresses.

I produced this interactive site on my own. I designed and coded the entire interactive project. I researched, reported and wrote the text content that appears throughout the site. I shot, edited and produced the videos you see in the site, and I edited and produced the audio pieces you hear. I also designed and produced an animated video in After Effects using the audio from an interview I conducted with a woman who uses the mental health app.

At the end of the site, viewers are taken to a 3,500-word text article, which I reported and wrote, on the context surrounding this subject of mobile technology in health care. I interviewed experts in various areas of this field, and the article explores topics including regulatory issues, cost issues, challenges and the future of where this technology is headed.