Who is the App For?
Reliable and personally relevant health information is important to meet everyday health goals, like eating more fruits and vegetables and getting active to protect against diabetes and heart disease. But it can be stressful to find trustworthy information on the Internet and the information may not be easy to understand or relate to personal health goals.
The HealthyMe/MiSalud app includes information and features that African American and Hispanic adults told the research team are important. The team spent a year working with two small groups, one African American and the other Spanish-speaking Hispanic adults, in Maryland. These groups told the research team what they wanted in an app and recommended app content and features. They tested different versions of the app.
In addition to health information, the app includes a zip-code based healthcare service finder and a nutrition label look-up. Imagine being at grocery store and wanting to know if a food is a good fit for someone with specific dietary needs. For example, the app helps a person with high blood pressure identify if a food is too high in sodium.
How the App Works
The HealthyMe/MiSalud app has a Recommender System based on a computer algorithm.
The algorithm is based on information provided by African American and Hispanic adults through a survey. The app recommends health information just like streaming services or online shopping sites suggest what people might want based on what they have done before and what other people with tastes like theirs have done. The app also uses the ratings that people give the health information.
App users choose how much personal information to enter. The more personal information a user enters, the more the app can personalize the information. Creating an account with personal information and health goals makes it possible to have a personal library where users can save and read health information anytime on the app.
See the examples below:
Example 1: Male user who is a 65-year-old African American with heart disease
Example 2: Female user who is a 32-year-old Hispanic pregnant woman
The HealthyMe/MiSalud app has 8 features to help users find and use health information.
App users can search or get recommended articles based on their profiles and other users like them. They can save articles in their personal library and build question lists for their doctor.
App users can:
- Search for or get recommended articles that match their goals.
- Type or audio-record their thoughts as a “health story”
- Build a question list for their doctor
App users create personal profiles and get articles linked to evidence-based recommendations about preventive behaviors and services.
App users enter their zip code to get locations and contact information of nearby health centers.
App users can scan a food product’s barcode or type a food name and find out if the food is a good fit with their health profile.
Privacy and Security
HealthyMe/MiSalud is a research project, and the research team records and analyzes the information people enter in the app and how they use the app.
The app records the information in UMD’s private web server.
Our team is different from many search engines, social media companies, and advertising companies that collect user information and sell it to other companies. We commit to keeping your information in the app private and secure. We use the information to learn about how people use apps and how to improve the app.
To keep data private and secure, we use a certified HTTPS protocol to:
- Make sure data are always being sent to and kept in UMD’s private web server.
- Make sure data are encrypted. This means that data are scrambled when sent between the app and UMD’s server so that other people or companies cannot read the data.
- For example, the app uses the phrase “fghf3!#dor9xm” when sending a specific piece of information to UMD’s server.
- The server then uses the phrase “jbmc5656@@0” when sending a specific recommendation to the app.
How We Keep User Data Private and Secure
When the app needs to get information from outside sources, such as myhealthfinder and USDA’s FoodData Central, we never send data that can be linked to a specific user.
Although we follow best practices to secure data, we can never guarantee that data are 100% secure.