New app aims to improve health, provide economic opportunities

Morehouse School of Medicine has teamed up with Emory University to develop a health care app called Moyo.

The app’s creators, Dr. Herman Taylor and Dr. Gari Clifford, told Channel 2 Action News that Moyo collects data like mood, physical activity and restaurant choices from users within disparaged communities -- an area where, they say, there can be a level of distrust with doctors.

The app will provide feedback for changes to improve health and prevent disease.

“You could walk into a fast food chain and it could pop up a token for really cheap health food and give you the option to change your behavior,” Clifford said.


Both he and Taylor agree, improving technology is a game changer for health care.

“With billions of people who have cellphones, the potential to impact health on a large scale, I think, ultimately is even bigger than what we've been able to achieve today with the classical method,” Taylor said.

The classical method is something he’s got experience with.

Before coming to Atlanta, Taylor established the Jackson Heart Study, based in Jackson, Mississippi. The study focused on the cardiovascular health of the African-American population.

“We managed to, over the course of maybe four years, to recruit 5,300 individuals who gave important data,” Taylor said.

He said information that used to take years to collect can now be gathered overnight. The challenge will be keeping people engaged with the app.

“So the input of the community is absolutely critical. And this is something that Morehouse has been very interested in for many years,” Taylor said.

That’s why they aren’t just asking people for their information, they’re asking them to get involved, by helping build the app itself.

“It's not a question of if we build it, they will come,” Clifford said. “We have to build it with the communities and build it for their desires and their problems.”

Input comes from community forums, tech events and internships. For some, that means an opportunity to learn coding, an area of the tech world booming with job possibilities.

Kevin Briggs Jr., one of the software developers who works on the Moyo website, said using cellphones to make health care interactive is key.

“I wanted to jump on board right away, because it's very beneficial as far as reaching out to the communities and gaining their trust,” Briggs said. “You’re not just banging somebody's head with questions that they don't really care about. You're kind of reeling them in without taking them out of their comfort zone.”

Christopher Aaron, who works on the app, said Moyo allows each user to control what information they share and when they share it.

“A user can toggle what data they want to be collected and what data they don't want to be collected,” Aaron said.

He said he believes apps like Moyo are important to take advantage of.

“We should be taking advantage of the opportunities that technology gives us when it comes to our personal health,” Aaron said.

Both Taylor and Clifford hope to see that attitude within the entire community.

“We look forward to a future that really is unlimited in terms of who will actually come into the Moyo family,” Taylor said.

If you would like to get involved with the project, the next health tech event will be part of the annual community engagement day at the Morehouse School of Medicine on Nov. 11.

Date and Time: 
Saturday, Nov. 11 (8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Morehouse School of Medicine Student Pavilion
720 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30310