Got an Idea for a Mobile App?

Mobile App Gateway supports digital health and app research and development

Pankaj Agarwal, far left, a database analyst in Duke Surgical Sciences, speaks with Tim Horan, center, and Ed Barber of Pattern Health, during the Mobile App Gateway kickoff at Duke.
Pankaj Agarwal, far left, a database analyst in Duke Surgical Sciences, speaks with Tim Horan, center, and Ed Barber of Pattern Health, during the Mobile App Gateway kickoff at Duke.

Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda wants to develop an app to prevent intimate-partner violence in young Latino immigrants. She envisions the app providing information for users to learn about PTSD, relationship stress and community support programs.

But she needs advice on design and financing. And for that, she set up an appointment with Duke’s “Mobile App Gateway” to discuss how to make her idea a reality. 

“I definitely don’t have the technological expertise, so they gave me a sense of how realistic my expectations were,” said Gonzalez-Guarda, associate professor in the Duke University School of Nursing. She will use the Gateway to budget her project.   

From concept through deployment, the Mobile App Gateway provides consultation, toolkits and education for employees and students interested in creating mobile technology. Advisers lead Duke community members to on-and-off campus resources for development, investment opportunities and prototyping. Consultation is free; other services may be fee-based. The Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute oversees the program.

So far, nearly 30 groups have requested a consultation. 

At a launch of the Mobile App Gateway in the fall, Duke employees spoke to a packed lecture hall about using mobile technology for a variety of issues from autism and multiple sclerosis to stress-management tools used by patients with cancer.

“Previously, if you wanted to build an app, it would have been really complicated to figure out how to do that,” said Ryan Shaw, Mobile App Gateway faculty adviser.  

For Duke community members who want to create a research app, the Mobile App Gateway has partnered with a health care and analytics platform that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and reduces app development costs from about $100,000 to $11,000. 

“We have had a lot of experiences where people wanted an app and they had a great idea, but they didn’t have the funds to build one,” said Katie McMillan, senior adviser for the Mobile App Gateway. “We can get the cost of developing an app for research purposes down to something that’s affordable.”  

Tim Sell, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Laboratory, met with Mobile App Gateway advisers before the official launch to discuss developing an app that assesses knee joint stability. 

“They’ve been very supportive,” said Sell, who will get help finding developers through the Gateway. “I hit the limitation of what I knew and what I could do, and they pointed me in the right direction.