Innovator Spotlight Q&A Series: Adjoa Anyane-Yeboa, MD, MPH
The Center for Innovation in Digital HealthCare Innovator Spotlight is a Q&A series that celebrates innovative ideas, highlights the important work that digital health innovators are doing to advance patient care and outcomes at Mass General Hospital, and shares key learnings about the innovation journey.
We are pleased to feature Adjoa Anyane-Yeboa, MD, MPH. Dr. Adjoa Anyane-Yeboa is a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is also a member of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, a subdivision of the Mongan Institute at MGH. Her work focuses on health equity in gastroenterology, specifically in inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.
We sought to create a smartphone application in partnership with app developer CarePassport to enable health center patients to self-schedule for colonoscopy and provide guidance and support throughout the preparation and procedure process […]
Q: Tell us about your innovation and the challenge(s) you were trying to solve.
AA: Patients at community health centers (CHCs) face barriers to colorectal cancer screening with resultant disparities in screening rates. CHCs care for a disproportionate share of racial and ethnic minorities and other vulnerable populations that face disparities in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. We sought to create a smartphone application in partnership with app developer CarePassport to enable health center patients to self-schedule for colonoscopy and provide guidance and support throughout the preparation and procedure process with various educational materials, videos, and bowel prep navigation.
Q: The innovation process can be long and challenging, but also rewarding. What inspired you to begin this journey?
AA: I was inspired to work in digital innovation because I know that this is where healthcare is heading. If we can provide patients access to colon cancer screening without them having to come into the clinic or wait to speak to someone on the phone, then we can address some of the barriers they face. To reach patients and improve access, we need to find creative solutions and meet them where they are.
Q: Please tell us about your overall experience and some of the major milestones you’ve achieved so far? What are the next steps?
AA: We have completed the creation of the app and have started to recruit for our study. Several patients have downloaded the application and have gone through the entire process, from app download to colonoscopy procedure. Once we have recruited enough patients, our next step will be to assess the acceptability and feasibility of the smartphone app. We will also assess other factors such as whether patients opened instructions and educational materials and how satisfied they were with the app and the entire process.
Q: What resources have been most helpful to you, and that you think other MGH innovators would benefit from?
AA: The most helpful resource has been the staff from the CarePassport team and the Center for Digital Healthcare Innovation (CIDH)! The staff from CIDH has been very responsive and available to answer any questions that we had. They have helped guide us every step of the way. I am new to application development, so their insight has been incredibly helpful. The CarePassport team has been a huge asset and supporter of the project from the very beginning. The mission of the work and the focus on community health center patients was important to them as well, and they wanted to ensure that their application would be accessible to all who needed it. They have provided countless edits and modifications, tech support, and have been incredibly flexible in helping us to meet our goals and ensure access for the community health center patients. I also want to acknowledge the funders of the project: MGH Cancer Center, American Cancer Society, and MGH Equity and Community Health, without whom this work would not have been possible.
Q: What advice would you give to other innovators at MGH that you wish you had been given early in your innovation journey?
AA: To be patient and know that things will always take longer than you anticipate! We had planned a start date for our study that was several months earlier than our actual launch date. We faced significant delays in development, as well delays due to bugs that needed to be fixed during beta testing. I have since realized that this is just part of the regular development process in innovation and that you need to factor in additional time to account for such delays.