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The Digital Health Council Supports Three SBM Initiatives

Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH, Digital Health Council chair

The Digital Health Council (DHC) was created in 2014 with the goal of helping grow the body of digital health work being done by members of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) and to position our society to benefit from and contribute to the fast-paced and evolving field of digital health. In the past year, the DHC (which currently numbers 24 SBM members) has worked to meet these goals.

As a new council, some of our work has been focused on establishing our presence, both within the society and within a larger context. Through efforts led by Emily G. Lattie, PhD, we have grown a Twitter following of 460 members. We created our council webpage and will use it in the year ahead to post information and updates about our work. Additionally, we've supported three specific initiatives for SBM, each of which we expect will impact our society in the year to come.

First, the DHC created a survey to understand members' experiences with academic-industry collaborations. Frederick Muench, PhD, and Madalina Sucala, PhD, were instrumental to this work. The goal of the survey is to capture an understanding of how SBM members feel about academic-industry collaborations and the positive and negative experiences they have had with these partnerships. The DHC will translate the results of this survey into activities planned for 2016 and 2017 designed to support and empower SBM members to pursue academic-industry collaborations, as these collaborations are critical to extending the reach and impact of digital health research. As of now, 245 members have responded to the survey, and the results will be shared with the society soon.

The DHC has also supported work being led by Brent Van Dorsten, PhD, chair of SBM's Revenue Enhancement Committee, to explore potential business models for diversifying SBM's revenue streams. Dr. Van Dorsten, with help from DHC members Bradford W. Hesse, PhD; Eric B. Hekler, PhD; and David K. Ahern, PhD, created materials describing the value proposition of SBM, from our scientific expertise to the intellectual property that we have and continue to generate. These materials were shared with students in a graduate course at the Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh in November of this past year, and ten business model options were generated by their work and delivered to SBM. Consideration of these models, and whether and how they will impact SBM, is ongoing.

Finally, as the DHC supports SBM in these efforts, each of which potentially deepen and broaden how we work with industry or commercial partners, with the support of our society's staff, the DHC has created a "best practices" document to detail how we will - and will not - partner or collaborate with industry. The document is far reaching and addresses everything from commercial support for the annual meeting to participation in formal collaborations with commercial partners. Overall, the best practices contained within the document are intended to answer questions such as: how do we ensure transparency with our membership when we receive funding from industry? What parameters guide who we will and will not accept funding from? And how do we responsibly partner with industry while never sacrificing our scientific integrity? This document is currently being reviewed by the SBM Board of Directors, and once approved, will be shared with the society for comment.

The DHC is an energetic and committed group of SBM members, and we deeply appreciate the support we receive from the society, especially the Technology SIG and the Scientific and Professional Liaison Council. We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead, and if you would like to join or add to our efforts, please do not hesitate to contact Digital Health Council Chair Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH, at beckjorde@upmc.edu.