Local Economy

Health conference aims to fill app gap

It may seem like there's an app for everything, but a Hamilton conference organizer says the possibilities for apps in the health field is "huge and growing."

Hamilton Apps for Health conference expects 180 participants

Mohawk College's Apps for Health conference takes place this Thursday and Friday. (iStock)

It may seem like there's an app for everything, but a Hamilton conference organizer says the possibilities for apps in the health field is "huge and growing."

Mohawk College instructor Christy Taberner is one of the organizers of a two-day technology and health conference, called Apps for Health, being held at the school this Thursday and Friday.

"Individuals can input personal information … so they can become empowered and take control and responsibility for their own health," said Taberner on the power of apps.

Mohawk College expects 180 visitors including researchers, developers in the health and technology industries and students from across Ontario. The conference will focus on mobile solutions for the health care industry.

Taberner said mobile health can make health care more efficient and help with decision-making on a international level. Despite the benefits, the industry has a challenge.

"The great challenge with e-health and [mobile] health is to engage in the next generation in this field and bring all these folks together to understand the challenges," said Mark Casselman, conference organizer and senior project manager of the Centre for eHealth Global Innovation.

On day two, student teams will tackle this challenge. Local non-profit and community organizations will present challenges they face in their domain, where they believe a mobile solution might exist.

For example, the local Community Care Access Centre, a public health agency that provides care option information, is looking for a mobile solution for seniors and families to explore long-term care and alternate living options.

International Child Care Canada, a health development organization, wants an app to provide health decision support to reduce infant mortality rates in rural Haiti.

For Taberner, the opportunity to link students, organizations and developers is key.

"A lot of the work is being done in the basements of peoples homes, I joke. We're all working on solutions but we're not really communicating with each other," said Taberner. 

"If we're really going to try to be innovative we need a place where innovators can connect. That's what we're really hoping will happen — coming up with some solutions together."