Tell us more about your background and experience. 

My research focuses on mHealth, or the use of mobile technology for delivering health services. I am currently a faculty associate in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I am also a technical consultant on mHealth for the World Health Organization. I completed a Masters degree in Public Health from Hopkins this May, with a focus on quantitative methods. At Hopkins, I worked closely with the Global mHealth Initiative, and was the founding president of SIMRI, the Student Initiative for mHealth Research and Innovation.

Original Link:

https://globalhealth.duke.edu/media/news/meet-visiting-scholar-lavanya-vasudevan

What does your work focus on and why is this work important for global health?

I am interested in developing mobile phone-based tools to strengthen health systems, promote knowledge exchange, and ultimately improve population health outcomes. Today, 86% of world’s population either owns, or has access to a mobile phone. These devices are, therefore, becoming attractive tools for transmitting public health interventions to beneficiaries and reducing disparities in health care access, especially in low and middle income countries, and among underserved populations. Mobile phones are cheap, portable, versatile, and can be used for a number of disease scenarios. For instance, mobile phone technology has been used to monitor physical activity, improve adherence to medication regimens, capture digital diaries on substance use patterns, provide health counseling on HIV/AIDS, compress the time needed for pregnant women to seek emergency obstetric care, and as an alternative to DOTS in tuberculosis patients.

What countries do you work in?

I am working with a team of researchers from Hopkins to design, deploy and evaluate mTikka, a mobile-phone based virtual vaccine registry, with a goal to improve the timeliness of routine EPI vaccinations among infants in rural Bangladesh.
I also just completed an assignment with the World Health Organization for the development of a research protocol to assess the effect of the DRISTHI mHealth intervention package on critical health areas associated with reproductive, maternal and child health. These areas include uptake of family planning, pre-and postnatal care, prevention of severe anemia in pregnant women, immunization coverage among infants, and the identification and management of malnutrition among children under five. DRISTHI is scheduled for deployment in rural Karnataka, India, early next year.

What do you hope to accomplish here?

I hope to plug-in to the DGHI research community, collaborate with faculty on new innovations in the mobile health space, and inspire students to join the mHealth revolution.

Why are you interested in global health?

Global health provides the perfect blend of opportunities for scientific research and real world impact, and allows me to work with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, all of whom are equally passionate about making a difference.

To start a conversation with me, ask me:

How you can leverage mobile technology in your work.

Tell us something interesting people don’t know about you.

My primary training is in cell biology! I hold a Ph.D. from Cornell University (Molecular Biology & Genetics), and worked for three years as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco on elucidating the molecular basis of human diseases.

What is the focus of your DGHI talk on October 25?

I will use my work with mTikka to illustrate how mobile technology can streamline data collection, help prioritize health services for vulnerable populations, and potentially improve health outcomes in developing countries.

Do you have an office at Trent Hall?

Yes, I am located in 231 Trent. Please stop by to say hello!