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Using mHealth to Support Heart Health

Heart Health mobile app splash screenFebruary is a month to reflect on matters of the heart, including heart health. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the United States. About half of adults in the United States have at least one major CVD risk factor, and certain demographic groups face elevated risk.

Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF), a division of Marshfield Clinic (a HRSA primary health care and rural health grantee), is putting heart health at patients’ fingertips with a mobile app to identify and reduce CVD risk.


Developing the Heart Health Mobile App

A multidisciplinary team at MCRF designed the Heart Health Mobile app to promote heart health among today’s mobile and digitally connected population.

MCRF developed Heart Health Mobile for the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts™ Campaign and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). For its development and support of the winning app, MCRF will receive an award of $100,000.  

MCRF designed Heart Health Mobile to:

  • Engage individuals potentially at risk for CVD;
  • Inform them of their heart health risk, and;
  • Motivate them to take action.

Available free from the iTunes App Store, the app will soon be available for other devices.

Using Heart Health Mobile

Heart Health Mobile identifies and supports actionable steps to help users control their CVD risk. Key features include:Mobile screen showing risk assessment for heart health

  • An interactive risk assessment tool. Users enter their risk factors including age, weight, smoking status, blood pressure, and cholesterol. As users enter more data, risk levels adjust accordingly.
  • A GPS-enabled map that identifies nearby screening locations and prompts users to call and schedule appointments to obtain current blood pressure and cholesterol numbers if unknown.
  • The ability to adjust risk factors to display how lifestyle and health changes could impact CVD risk.
  • User progress tracking to enable self-monitoring of changes in heart health risk over time.
  • Multi-lingual support, notifications and reminders, and educational materials to help users better understand and manage their heart health.
  • Social media integration so users can share the app.Screen shot from a Heart Health app interactive game
  • Games to enrich the user experience.


Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead

MCRF identified two keys to success based on its experience designing the Heart Health Mobile app.

  • Use a team based approach. The Heart Health Mobile team included providers, researchers, and legal and health IT staff. Having a team with varied perspectives and expertise supported the development of a robust app.
  • Let users drive the design. MCRF recognized that understanding and incorporating users’ needs and preferences during the design process would help create a more effective app.

In the future, MCRF would like to look at linking Heart Health Mobile to the patient portal to advance Heart Health Mobile as a tool that not only activates patients, but also enhances the patient-provider connection.


About Marshfield Clinic and the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation

Founded by six physicians in 1916, Marshfield Clinic now operates a large network of health centers in the state of Wisconsin. Its research division, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF), was established in 1959. MCRF supports the Marshfield Clinic’s mission to serve patients through accessible, high quality health care, research, and education.

Marshfield Clinic

Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation

Contact: Marshfield Corporate Communications