Healthcare digital application powers Harvard’s global, multi-language study

Populations Health Research

Custom Web & Mobile App Development

Real World Evidence

API Integration


People spend 90% of their time indoors, and although buildings have become more energy efficient, they have also become more airtight, increasing the potential for poor indoor environmental quality.  The research team of ‘Healthy Buildings Program’ at HSPH* wanted to identify the impact of ventilation, chemicals, and carbon dioxide on workers’ cognitive functions. * The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) is a melting pot of experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere.

The Challenge

HSPH wanted to carry out studies to understand linkages among indoor environmental quality and human cognitive functions.

The study participants were people working inside buildings across ten different countries, including the US, Mexico, China, and India. Hence the platform needed to support multi-lingual capabilities for English, Spanish, and Mandarin.

Disparate data streams, mentioned below, were required to be brought together for researchers to do further analysis:

Surveysand active tasks to collect cognitive and behavioral data via participant responses.

Integration with instruments to collect environmental data within the participant office settings – through the LASS4U sensors – such as temperature, humidity, CO2 level, and other indicators.

Fitbit wearable device data to understand day-to-day activity and health data of participants.

Location data through participants’ mobile devices.

The Solution

BTC built a platform called ‘For Health’ comprising

i) Mobile app (iOS and Android) for study participants

ii) Web app for researchers

The mobile apps received the surveys from a cloud-based system using the APIs. The researchers could configure and schedule these surveys based on environmental conditions. If the set conditions were met, the mobile app dynamically notified the participants to complete the surveys.

The study participants could respond to the app’s interactive and engaging UI. Researchers also could engage study participants via incentives and gamification.

Mobile apps supported multi-lingual capabilities (English, Chinese, and Spanish)

Participant Responses were securely transferred and stored in backend servers that were HIPAA and GDPR-compliant.

Via the web app, researchers could track participants’ activities and analyze their responses on the dashboard.

The Outcome

The ‘For Health’ app enabled the data collection from study participants via surveys and cognitive tests, and their wearable devices. This data was in congruence with the specified environmental conditions as desired by the researchers.

The researchers at HSPH, the ‘For Health’ platform built by BTC, provided anonymous, real-time, multi-sourced, rich data using which researchers could successfully study the impact of multiple indoor environmental factors on human health and productivity.

Over the years, BTC has continued working with the HSPH research team to enhance the ‘For Health’ platform by adding new user engagement aspects, incorporating new data sources, and new features such as tracking participants’ greenness exposure.

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