Black communities to receive COVID-19 information via new app

Black communities
© Niccolo Pontigia

A cardiologist from the University of Cincinnati is partnering with researchers in St. Louis and rural Georgia to develop a smartphone app that will deliver COVID-19 information and education to Black communities

Donald Lynch, MD, assistant professor of cardiovascular health and disease at UC and a UC Health cardiologist is working with public health researchers, Tilicia Mayo-Gamble, PhD, at Georgia Southern University, and Kelly Harris, PhD, at Washington University in St. Louis, to conduct a yearlong pilot study which will be supported by the Association of Black Cardiologists. He was awarded $25,000 to complete the pilot using the smartphone app.

“What we know across the country is that COVID has disproportionately affected the African American community and it is unmasking underlying disease,” says  Lynch, MD.

“I want the community to be empowered. I want us to bring this mobile health-based technology into the hands of the community so it has ready access to information about COVID but also about cardiovascular disease and other areas of disease impacting African Americans disproportionately.”

Ohio COVID cases

In Ohio as of October 28, there were 205,347 cases of COVID-19 which include 18,606 hospitalisations and 5,256 deaths. Black residents accounted for 16.7% of COVID-19 cases, 17.1% of deaths and 25.7% of the hospitalisations.

“We will have a stakeholder group in each of those communities,” adds Lynch. “We will ask the stakeholders how people perceive they are receiving their health care information and information on COVID-19. We will ask questions about the use of smartphones.

“This is an implementation science-based project. We are going to ask questions as to how satisfied they are with current available health information and what information you feel is missing. What more information is needed and where are the gaps?

“Based on the feedback we will build our app. The stakeholder conversations will conclude at the end of three months, and we hope to get a pilot version of our app available for community members to test. We know many people have access to smartphones and we think this will work well for our study.

“We are learning more and more about COVID every day, and we know COVID can affect the heart itself. Now we are seeing patients that are COVID-positive. They have survived and are a month or more out and they have manifestations of heart palpitations, problems regulating blood pressure and other concerns. It’s not clear if this is a result of COVID or if those symptoms were present before COVID and now we are just paying more attention to signals from our body”, concluded Lynch.


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