New book looks at communication technology in global health

RTI International researcher co-authored chapter on epidemiology and health care innovations


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – In a time of rapidly transforming communication technologies, developers and researchers are creating new ways to track and combat disease. A new book presents an integrated look at the methods that are shaping the use of communication technology in health care. 

The book, Global Health Informatics: Principles of eHealth and mHealth to Improve Quality of Care, brings together experts from areas such as computer science, medicine, public health, policy.

Kenneth J. Rothman, DrPH, Distinguished Fellow and vice president for Epidemiology Research at RTI Health Solutions, a business unit of RTI International, and Matthew Fox, professor of Epidemiology at Boston University, collaborated to write chapter five, titled Modern Epidemiology and Global Health in the Era of Information. In a straightforward and relatable way, Rothman and Fox explain how the field of epidemiology contributes to understanding the true effect of new innovations in technology on health care interventions.

As their abstract states, “Epidemiology is about thorough investigation and vetting – not rushing to accept an intervention. Before we conclude that new technology and approaches will achieve worthwhile benefits in terms of survival, quality of life, or other health outcomes, we evaluate the effectiveness of new interventions using rigorous methods.” 

A key concern is, to what extent does the apparent effect of a new technology or treatment reflect the actual effect. In other words, to what extent are the effects distorted because of the characteristics of those who receive or choose the new treatment? Fox and Rothman explain the methods epidemiologists use to assess how much of the apparent effect of an intervention can be attributed to that intervention.  

In addition to his work at RTI, Rothman is also a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Boston University. His chief career interest has been the development and teaching of the concepts and methods of epidemiologic research. 

MIT Press published the book, now in print and available for purchase online.