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Behavioral Informatics SIG Update
2013 Annual Meeting Events: Excitement and Evidence

By Timothy Bickmore, PhD, Behavioral Informatics SIG Chair; Eric Hekler, PhD; and Abdul Shaikh, PhD

Behavioral Informatics SIGThe rapid evolution and uptake of technologies such as smart phones and tablets, Twitter™, and electronic and personal health records has reinforced the need to understand how such tools are being used by individuals and groups for health-related purposes. With the passage of key federal legislation such as HITECH, America COMPETES, and the Affordable Care Act, the Behavioral Informatics SIG has been very interested in the meaningful use of technology for population health. The BI SIG and its members have been involved in planning many of the exciting technology-related events that will take place at the annual meeting in San Francisco, the heart of the nation's technology incubator. Here are some highlights to look forward to.


Two events-a symposium and a panel-are planned to expose the SBM community to research in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (CHI). Symposium 26 (3/22 8:45 am), "There's a Whole World Out There! Exemplars from Human Computer Interactions for Creating Health Behavior Change Technologies" will feature speakers from the CHI community who have been active in designing behavioral informatics interventions. A panel session (Panel 10, 3/22, 11:45 am) will also be held by researchers from SBM and the CHI professional community to discuss strategies for working across the disciplinary divide of behavioral medicine and human computer interaction for developing effective behavior change technologies.

Additional sessions will focus on particular technologies, including social media and wearable sensors. The conference closing Keynote Panel (3/23 11:45 am) will be on "Health Behavior Research and Practice via Social Media and Social Networks", and there will be a panel on the topic of "Quantified Self" (Panel 7, 3/21, 11:45 am), which is a growing community dedicated to better living through self-tracking aspects of our daily lives through technology.

Additional symposia will provide overviews of progress to date, including "eHealth Interventions: Where We've Been and Where We're Going" (3/21 2 pm), and will cover ethical issues related to the use of digital health data, such as the Featured Symposium on "Navigating the New Waters of Digital Health Research, Ethical Issues and Institutional Review Boards" (3/22 8:45 am). Another panel on "Translational Pipelines for Evidence-Based Digital Health" (3/22 11:45 am) will explore new avenues for behavioral scientists to partner with technology startups and funders for developing evidence-based technologies for clinical and public health.

The BI SIG will host two breakfast roundtable meetings (3/21 and 3/22 at 7:30 am). In addition to our annual business meeting (held on 3/22) we will use these roundtables to preview the day's technology-related events, with speakers providing short previews of their talks and industry reps giving demos of their systems.

In addition, planning is still underway for activities designed to foster connections among SBM members and the health IT startup community including possible pre-conference "Google Hangouts" with leaders in the health technology and SBM communities and also pathways for technology companies to more actively participate in the conference.


There are several Panels and Symposia dedicated to reviewing empirical results from technology-based behavioral medicine interventions, in addition to many individual papers appearing in other sessions. Examples include the following.

In partnership with the Ethnic Minority and Multicultural Health and Multiple Behavior Change SIGs, the BI SIG is co-sponsoring a Symposium on "The Use of Emergent Technology to Assess and Intervene with Multiple Health Behaviors in Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations" (3/21 8:45 am).

Course 401 (3/20 12 noon) on "Interventions across Cancer Care Continuum: Development, Dissemination, and the Promise of New Technology" will feature a session on IT-based interventions.

Additional sessions with technology-based interventions include "Innovative Technology and Physical Activity Promotion" (3/22 3:45 pm), and "Skin Cancer Prevention and Screening" (3/22 3:45 pm).


The focus on technology at this year's annual meeting promises to make it an especially exciting event. Be sure to attend our breakfast roundtables to get a full preview. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.