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Maoyi Tian: Seven years with the George

Meet Maoyi Tian, Program Head of Digital Health at The George Institute China. 

What is your work experience at the George Institute for Global Health and CCmHI?

I have been working here for seven years. When I first joined the George Institute China in 2011, after receiving my doctor degree, I did some research assistant relevant work, been involved in project design, project implementation and management, quality control and data analysis. In 2014, I was promoted as a senior research fellow, and responsible for project funds applying. Therefore, my work experience here is like a shift from a research fellow to an independent researcher.

In 2015, The George Institute China and Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ teamed up to establish the China Center for mHealth Innovation (CCmHI), a world-class center for mobile health (mHealth) innovation and advocacy that aims to improve community health care in China through the study of affordable, sustainable mHealth interventions. Taking this opportunity, I participated in its founding and following scientific research, which aimed to summarize and analyze all of Chinese and mhealth-related research, policy and commercial products to exploit the status quo of Chinese mhealth, as well as the role of mhealth in healthcare system and its shortcomings, in order to provide guidance for future study.

Under the auspices of the George Institute China, I went to Sydney to study for a Master’s degree in Public Health. My dissertation focused on the development of mhealth in China.  In late 2017, I returned GI, China to continue this work.

What are your main responsibilities as the program head of digital health?

Now, my work is to expand mHealth to a range of fields, such as electronic health, the health science and technology, and to promote the research of this area. We not only focus on how to develop a product, but also try to merge digital solution into the healthcare system and the management and prevention of diseases. Also, I hope that under the architecture of the health system, mhealth can have integrated effects and play leading role in six fields (including health financing, health governance, health work force, information, technology and medicine), which is also the development direction of our future.

CCmHI focuses on the innovation and promotion of mhealth. Can you give a brief introduction about mhealth?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mhealth refers to using a mobile device, which can be a cell phone or a PDA, to provide health management and disease prevention services for people. I quite agree with this definition, but at the same time, I also think that mhealth should not only provide such services, but play a role of integration in existing health system, making doctors, patients, hospitals, and government be integrated together.

Can you give a brief introduction to the projects of CCmHI at this stage?

CCmHI has launched a series of programs, but the existing projects haven’t reach the goal to integrate mhealth into healthcare system. Present projects are designed to tackle a certain kind of disease. For example, SmartDiabetes is to use the mobile phone to intervene on patients’ families and communities, helping diabetic patients to rationally use drugs and standardize self-management. It is a large-scale mhealth project currently, which, as a cluster randomized controlled trial, can provide very reliable results. However, there is still room for other current projects to play the role of integration.

What are your plans for the future?

I think the direction is how to integrate mhealth into Chinese healthcare system, how to communicate and cooperate with other organizations in the area of health, really playing the role of the mhealth. At this stage, we focus on different aspects of mhealth, preparing for final integration. We are trying to analyze from the perspectives of different participants, in order to find out the shortage of healthcare system in our country, and then put forward possible solutions. In addition, we have also launched some commercial projects, hoping to combine mhealth and basic medical projects from a business point of view. In summary, we are progressing in scientific research, we are looking forwards from a macroscopic view, and we are trying in business. All our efforts will really contribute to the construction of Chinese primary healthcare system.