TCDM: Topol, E. (2012). The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Care. New York, NY: Basic Books. (On Blackboard or available via NEU library for online reading)

TPWSYN: Topol, E. J. (2015). The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands. New York: Basic Books. (On Blackboard or available via NEU library for online reading)

TIP: Christensen, C. M., et al. (2009). The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care. New York, McGraw-Hill.

The syllabus has been revised substantially from past offerings of this course. Adjustments are likely within the first two weeks of the course, based on the composition of the class. Always check with the online (current) version each week.  

Wed Sep 6 (Class 1)

Part 1: Introductions; Introduction to the course; Grand challenges in health

Discussion: Grand challenges in health

Part 2: Why personal health interfaces are important; Using next-generation interfaces as probes to inspire creative thinking about health; Course objectives and the format of the course; Assignment 1 (including expectations for presentations)


·         Technologies that truly transformed health

·         Digital technology sweet spots: Computers vs. people


Discussion: Achieving bold, creative thinking about health; Course Q&A

Fri Sep 8 (by 8 pm via email)


Introductory course survey email completed

Tue Sep 12 (by 8 pm via email)


(Individual) Assignment #1: Brainstorming ideas + 1 minute presentations

Wed Sep 13 (Class 2) (Please bring your charged laptop to class)

Part 1: Your positively disruptive PHI ideas for healthcare



Readings (completed before class):

·         Course presentation guidelines and tips

·         Part 1 (“Part One: Setting the Foundation”) (Chapters 1-3) from TCDM (52 pages, 1.7 hr)

·         Ch. 14 (“Flattening the Earth”) from TPWSYN (18 pages, 36 min)


·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Assignment #1 presentations with and rapid-fire 30s pro/con discussion (who/how impacted); Real-time feedback


Discussion: Are the ideas addressing our biggest societal problems? What could the impact be on health if successful? What are the challenges, and could they be realistically addressed?

Part 2: Using probes effectively, but avoiding “Uninvited Guests”; Frameworks for thinking creatively about PHI

Readings (completed before class):

·         Section One (“Readiness for a Revolution”) of TPWSYN (73pg, 2 hr)

·         “Introduction” from TIP (35 pages, 1 hr)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         UnInvited guests


Discussion: Why the frameworks are helpful; Big opportunities/”sweet spots” for PHI.

Tue Sep 19 (by 8 pm)


(Individual) Assignment #2: Two-minute pitch of best idea using frameworks; Two-minute pitch improving a classmate’s idea

Wed Sep 20 (Class 3)

Part 1a: More positively disruptive PHI ideas for healthcare (appropriately framed)

Readings (completed before class):

·         Catch up on reading from last week!

·         Kahn, C. R. (1994). "Picking a research problem - The critical decision." The New England Journal of Medicine 330(21): 1530-1533. (4 pages, 15 min)

·         McGinnis, J. M. and W. H. Foege (1993). "Actual causes of death in the United States." JAMA 270(18): 2207-2212. (6 pages, 20 min)

·         McGinnis, J. M. and W. H. Foege (2004). "The immediate vs the important." JAMA 291(10): 1263. (2 pages, 10 min)

·         Death data CDC: (skim and review tables in some of the reports, e.g., in (15 min)


Exercise: 2-minute idea pitches with rapid feedback; Using the frameworks to improve an idea; helping a classmate


Discussion: Are the ideas being generated focused on the most important problems? Why (or why not)?

Part 1b: Teaming up

Readings (completed before class):

·         TEAMMATES sign-up (You will receive an email to sign up)



·         Team expectations


Discussion: Team expectations and challenges and opportunities

Part 2: Case study: Sue (Independent Living)

Readings (completed before class):

·         Section Two (“The New Data and Information”) of TPWSYN (100 pages, 3.3 hr)

·         Ch. 10 (“The Edifice Complex”) of TPWSYN (10 pages, 20 min)

·         Tomlinson, M.,Rotheram-Borus, M.J., Swartz, L. and Tsai, A.C. (2013). “Scaling up mHealth: Where is the Evidence?”, PLoS Med 10(2): e1001382. (4 pages, 12 min)

·         Chapter 5 (“Disruptive Solutions for the Care of Chronic Disease”) in TIP. (33 pages, 50 min)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Propose an idea to help Sue, justifying with frameworks (Individually, then team)


Discussion: PHI as part of the healthcare system; What’s the new-knowledge “bump” (tech and health), and how is it proven?  

Tue Sep 26 (by 8 pm)


(Team) Assignment #3: 2x2 Team pitch of most impactful/viable ideas using frameworks that team can pull off and that could be plausibly evaluated

Sep 27 (Class 4)

Part 1: Project idea critiques (faculty/student outsiders)



Reading (completed before class):

·         Watch tool videos, setup systems, and start using them (Stephen will post the links on Piazza)

·         Kumar, S., et al. (2013). "Mobile health technology evaluation: The mHealth Evidence Workshop." Am. J. Prev. Med. 45(2): 228-236. (8 pages, 15 min)

·         Free, C., et al. (2013). "The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review." PLoS Med 10. (45 pages but w/ many tables that can be skimmed, 30 minutes)

·         Chapter 4 (“PHYSIOLOGY – Wireless Sensors) in TCDM. (18 pages, 36 min) (Optional but recommended)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         2x2 Team Presentations; Real-time feedback/voting


Discussion: Project ideas

Part 2: Collaboration tools; Open source and open data; Getting the most out of the remainder of the course  

Reading (completed before class):

·         Selections from Fogel, K. (2005). Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project. (pages 1-24, 26-32, 37-81, 1.5 hr)

·         Ch 11 (“Open Sesame”) of TPWSYN (22 pages, 44 min)

·         Estrin, D. and I. Sim (2010). "Open mHealth architecture: An engine for health care innovation." Science 330(6005): 759-760. (2 pages, 10 min)

·         GIT Getting Started documentation

·         BitBucket documentation


Discussion: Why using open tools and an open mindset could prove helpful (even if project not open source)

Oct 4 (Class 5)


(Team) Assignment #4: Select idea and scientifically justify what we know and don’t know (Word + Endnote: 1 page CHI format (not including refs))

Part 1: Putting ideas in perspective

Reading (completed before class and assignment):

·         Estrin, D. (2014). "Small data, where n = me." Commun. ACM 57(4): 32-34.

·         Spruijt-Metz, D., et al. (2015). "Building new computational models to support health behavior change and maintenance: New opportunities in behavioral research." Transl Behav Med: 1-12. (12 pages, 24 min)

·        Optional: Riley, W. T., et al. (2011). "Health behavior models in the age of mobile interventions: Are our theories up to the task?" Transl Behav Med 1(1): 53-71. (18 pages, 40 min)

·         Optional: Michie, S. and M. Johnston (2012). "Theories and techniques of behaviour change: Developing a cumulative science of behaviour change." Health Psychology Review 6(1): 1-6. (6 pages, 14 min)

·         Optional: Michie, S., et al. (2013). "The behavior change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques: Building an international consensus for the reporting of behavior change interventions." Ann Behav Med 46(1): 81-95.



·         Reading rapid assessment.

·         Does the system meet the research project/impact goals?

·         Idea review: what’s the tech challenge, and where’s the proof? 


Discussion: Where’s the science/engineering innovation? What’s the theory behind the idea?

Part 2: Habits 

Reading (completed):

·         Rothman, A. J., Sheeran, P., and Wood, W. (2009). “Reflective and automatic processes in the initiation and maintenance of food choices”, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 28 (Suppl), pp. 4-17. (13 pages, 30 min)

·         Tierney, J. (2011). To Choose is to Lose: Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? The New York Times. New York, NY, The New York Times. (11 pages, 20 min)

·         Duhigg, C. (2012). An excerpt from Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit., 1-5. (5 pages, 12 min)



·         Habit diagram for team project idea

·         Team critique


Discussion: Changing habits vs. “uninvited guests”    


Oct 11 (Class 6)


(Team) Assignment #5: Revise and resubmit idea justification (from Assignment#4); add timeline and action plan

Part 1: Interface Affordances and Capabilities; Computers ≠ Smart

Reading (completed before class):

·         Bosworth, A., York, Chris, Kotansky, Heidi, Berman, Mark. (2011). "An inventor's perspective on consumer health informatics." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 40: 241-244. (3 pages, 12 min)

·         Heron, K. E. and J. M. Smyth (2010). "Ecological momentary interventions: Incorporating mobile technology into psychosocial and health behaviour treatments." British Journal of Health Psychology 15(Pt 1): 1-39. (38 pages, 1 hr)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Novel interfaces: Solving a problem a new way


Discussion: Exploiting new technology, without needing a “brain”

Part 2:  Precision Medicine

Reading (completed before class):

·         Collins, F. S. and H. Varmus (2015). "A new initiative on Precision Medicine." New England Journal of Medicine 372(9): 793-795. (2 pages, 10 min)

·         Intille, S. (2016). "The Precision Medicine Initiative and pervasive health research." IEEE Pervasive Computing January-March: 88-91. (3 pages, 10 min)

·         Silvertown, J. (2009). "A new dawn for citizen science." Trends Ecol Evol 24(9): 467-471. (4 pages, 12 min)

·         Chapter 13 (“Predicting and Peempting Disease”) of TPWSYN (19 pages, 38 min)

·         Optional: Chapter 11 (“Homodigitus and the Individual”) in TCDM. (19 pages, 40 min)

·         Optional: Chapter 6 (“Integrating to Make it Happen”) in TIP. (37 pages, 1hr)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Project ideas + PMI + citizen science


Discussion: The changing nature of health research   

Oct 15

Due by 8 PM

(Team) Assignment #6: Record practice run of mid-term presentation (includes emphasis on Idea novelty and impact justification, frameworks, scientific justification, plan for action, rough plan for evaluation)

Oct 17

Due by Noon (sooner if you can)

(Individual) Assignment #7: Critique a practice run recording of a different team and help to improve the idea and presentation

Oct 18 (Class 7)


Final version of mid-term presentation (Part of Assignment 6)

Part 1 & 2: Preliminary project presentations and discussion with class visitors 

Reading (completed before class):

·         Chapter 1 (“The Role of Disruptive Technology and Business Model Innovation in Making Products and Services Affordable and Accessible”) in TIP. (36 pages, 1 hr)

·         Optional: Chapter 2 (“The Technological Enablers of Disruption”) in TIP. (35 pages, 50 min)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Presentations, Q&A, and critique


Discussion: Will project results change health/medicine as we know it? How can that be demonstrated?


Start paper prototyping discussion.

Oct 25 (Class 8)


(Team) Assignment #8: Develop a “paper prototype” of the interface  

Part 1 & 2: Rapid design for novel PHI interfaces

Reading (completed before class):

·         Rettig, M. (1994). "Prototyping for tiny fingers." Communications of the ACM 37(4): 21-27. (6 pages, 15 min)

·         Tohidi, M., et al. (2006). Getting the right design and the design right. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Montréal, Québec, Canada, ACM: 1243-1252. (10 pages, 18 min)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Paper prototyping test session(s)  


Discussion: Rapid design: observations and strategies

Nov 1 (Class 9)


(Team) Assignment #9: Revised “paper prototype” of entire design

Part 1: Systems and “grass roots” Bootstrapping: Solving a Problem and Scaling; Adherence

Reading (completed before class):

·         Chapter 15 (“The Emancipated Consumer”) of TPWSYN (15 pages, 30 min)

·         Govindarajan, V. and R. Ramamurti (2013). "Why Can’t U.S. Health Care Costs Be Cut in Half?" Harvard Business Review. (3 pages, 10 min)

·         Song, Z. and E. S. Fisher (2016). "The ACO experiment in infancy—looking back and looking forward." JAMA 316(7): 705-706. (2 pages, 10 min)

·         Schulman, K. A. and B. D. Richman (2016). "Reassessing ACOs and health care reform." JAMA 316(7): 707-708. (2 pages, 10 min)

·         Brown, M., et al. (2013). "Uber - What's Fueling Uber's Growth Engine." Retrieved September 6, 2016, from (14 min)

·         Kelders, S. M., et al. (2012). "Persuasive system design does matter: A systematic review of adherence to web-based interventions." J Med Internet Res 14(6): e152. (25 min)

·         Chapter 3 (“Disrupting the Hospital Business Model”) in TIP. (37 pages, 50 min)

·         Chapter 4 (“Disrupting the Business Model of the Physician’s Practice”) in TIP. (37 pages, 50 min)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Uber Health


Discussion: Bootstrapping, despite the medical system

Part 2:  Measuring success 

 Reading (completed before class):

·         Stone, A., et al. (2002). "Patient non-compliance with paper diaries." British Medical Journal (BMJ) 324: 1193-1194. (2 pages, 12 min)

·         Hamilton, C. M., et al. (2011). "The PhenX Toolkit: Get the most from your measures." Am J Epidemiol 174(3): 253-260. (7 pages, 18 min)

·         Bolger, N., et al. (2003). "Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived." Annual Review of Psychology 54: 579-616. (37 pages, 1 hr)

·         Goodwin, M.S. (2012). “Passive telemetric monitoring: Novel methods for real-world behavioral assessment”, Handbook of Research Methods for Studying Daily Life, New York, NY: The Guilford Press. (14 pages, 28 min) (On Blackboard)

·         Intille, S. S. (2012). Emerging technology for studying daily life. Handbook of Research Methods for Studying Daily Life. M. R. Mehl and T. S. Conner. New York, Guilford Press: 267-282. (16 pages, 30 min) (On blackboard)

·         Riley, W. T., et al. (2013). "Rapid, responsive, relevant (R3) research: A call for a rapid learning health research enterprise." Clin Transl Med 2(1): 10. (6 pages, 12 min)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Measures search (see PhenX Toolkit)


Discussion: New PHIs and new measurement tools

Nov 8 (Class 10)


(Team) Assignment #10: Functioning technical nugget(s)

Part 1: Demonstrating technical progress

Reading (completed before class):

·         Chapters 7-8 (EHRs and the convergence of human data capture) in TCDM. (38 pages, 1 hr)



·         Rapid reading assessment

·         Presentations/demos of technical nuggets


Discussion: Technical challenges

Part 2: Working in teams on PHI projects: Stories from the field  

Reading (completed before class):

·         Intille, S. (2013). "Closing the Evaluation Gap in UbiHealth Research." Pervasive Computing, IEEE 12(2): 76-79. (3 pages, 12 min)

·         Svetkey, L. P., et al. (2015). "Cell phone Intervention for You (CITY): A randomized, controlled trial of behavioral weight loss intervention for young adults using mobile technology." Obesity(23): 2133-2141. (8 pages, 20 min)

·         Siek, K. A. and K. Connelly (2010). Achieving success in research collaborations in health informatics. Health Informatics: A Patient-Centered Approach to Diabetes. B. M. Hayes and W. Aspray, MIT Press: 327-346. (15 pages, 20 min) (On Blackboard)

·         Rising, L. and Janoff, N.S. (2000). "The Scrum software development process for small teams", IEEE Software, vol.17, no.4, pp.26-32. (7 pages, 12 min)

·         Yau, A. and C. Murphy (2013). Is a Rigorous Agile Methodology the Best Development Strategy for Small Scale Tech Startups? Department of Computer Science Technical Reports, University of Pennsylvania. (8 pages, 18 min)

·         Moe, N.B.,Dingsoyr, T. and Dyba, T. (2009). "Overcoming Barriers to Self-Management in Software Teams",  IEEE Software, 26(6), pp. 20-26. (7 pages, 14 min)

·         Optional: Optional: Chapter 9 (“Doctors with Plasticity?”) in TCDM. (21 pages, 42 min)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Prompt more | Prompt less


Discussion: PHI team challenges and opportunities

Nov 15 (Class 10)


(Team) Assignment #11: Draft of full, final paper

Part 1: Privacy/Security


Reading (completed before class):

·         Chapter 12 (“Secure vs. Cure”) of TPWSYN (18 pages, 36 min)

·         Prasad, A. and D. Kotz (2010). Can I access your data? Privacy management in mHealth. USENIX Workshop on Health security (HealthSec). (2 pages, 6 min)

·         Intille, S. S. and A. M. Intille (2003). New challenges for privacy law: Wearable computers that create electronic digital diaries. Cambridge, MA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (19 pages, 40 min)

·         Kelly, P. el al. (2013). “An ethical framework for automated, wearable cameras in health behavior research”, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(3), pp. 314-319. (6 pages, 15 min)

·         De Montjoye, Y-A. et al. (2013). “Unique in the crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility”, Scientific Reports, 3(1376), March. (4 pages, 15 min)

·         Brown, E. A. (2016). "The Fitbit fault line: Two proposals to protect health and fitness data at work." Yale J Health Policy Law Ethics 16(1): 1-49. (44 pages, 1 hr)



·         Reading rapid assessment

·         Project implications


Discussion: Security/privacy? When do we draw the line in research?


Part 2: Paper critique/editing (Focus primarily on design description)


Exercises:  Peer editing


Discussion: Writing tips  

Nov 21


 (Team) Assignment #12: Revised final paper

Nov 22 (No class - Thanksgiving)         

Nov 29 (Class 11)                                        


(Team) Assignment #13: Working technical system with documentation (one swap completed)

Part 1: Tech swap #2

Exercise: Team swap and further improving documentation


Discussion: Challenges and strategies for project transfer 

Part 2: Paper swap

Exercise: Paper swap and editing using the guidelines


Discussion: Paper writing tips; Final presentation tips 

Dec 6 (Class 12)                                           


Presentation and demo component of Assignment #14

Part 1 & 2: Final project presentations (for panel of invited experts)


Guest visitors: Prof. Matthew Goodwin; Prof. Holly Jimison

Exercises: Presentations


Discussion: Project ideas, lessons learned, and next steps (evaluation)

Dec 13 (8 pm)                                               


(Team) Assignment #14: Final prototype, demo, documentation, and paper (including individual evaluation of team)