Informatics & Technology

Health Informatics & Technology

NIHI's research into mobile phone-based health interventions is world-leading. This research programme explores innovative delivery methods such as mobile phones, internet and social media, for health interventions. The team also conducts basic and applied health informatics research, and evaluates national health informatics and health IT projects. The research team collaborates widely with other experts and groups in New Zealand and overseas.


Our current research highlights

See How They Grow

See How They Grow is a study which aims to help parents and carers learn about their child’s growth. Children's growth is an important sign of their health and development. Growth assessment is one of the easiest ways to examine the health and nutrition of children, because changes in health and nutrition almost always affect growth. Over the next 18 months we are undertaking a set of research activities aimed at developing a mobile app to capture and monitor child(ren)’s growth, initially from birth to 2 years, but in the long term from birth to 5 years. The goal of the app is to see if it can help parents and carers to recognise a healthy body weight in the child and provide strategies and actions to support healthy growth.
Gathering Stories is happening now. We are looking for parents and whānau carers of children aged 0-2 who are willing to take part in an online survey to share their experiences of using growth charts, how useful they have found them, barriers and enablers to using them and any other points that parents and whānau carers want to share. To complete the survey go to See How They Grow Survey


MyTeen is a randomised controlled trial of a text-based mobile programme to promote parental competence and mental health literacy for parents / caregivers of adolescents aged 10-15 to see if the programme is useful and/or effective for parents. The trial is being undertaken by researchers at the National Institute for Health Innovation and is funded by A Better Start Cure Kids grant. The lead investigator is Dr Joanna Chu. 214 parents will be randomised to either intervention or care as usual group. Participants in the intervention group will receive text messages that provide instructional, informational and emotional support. These will include evidence-based information on the nature and symptoms of common youth mental health problems, understanding treatment options, strategies to improve parent-child communication, parent self-care, and useful links to resources. The programme will be delivered over 4 weeks (1 daily text message). Participants in the care-as-usual group will receive no programme from the research team. They will be offered the text-messaging programme after the completion of the 3 month follow-up questionnaire. Due to the brief and preventative nature of the programme, people who report a high level of stress during screening, will not be able to take part in the study, and will be directed to professional services. For more information, please contact us at


TextMATCH is a free text message programme being run in WDHB and ADHB, specific to the nutritional and physical activity needs of New Zealand women and families. It has been developed at the National Institute for Health Innovation for the Māori, Pacific, Asian and South Asian communities during pregnancy through to 2 years of age. TextMATCH involves up to three messages a week and is available in different versions depending on culture, language or whether they are the mother or another family member. A person can be referred at any time to the programme and where they start in the programme is dependent on their due date or their child’s date of birth. There are 16 versions of TextMATCH developed incorporating different cultures, languages and also the person’s relationship to the baby. To date over 800 woman and other family members have signed up for TextMATCH. For more information please contact Jacqui Grey


SMS4BG (self-management support for blood glucose) is a text message based diabetes self-management programme developed by the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) in conjunction with Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB). It is designed to address the behaviours required for successful diabetes self-management and is made up of modules allowing for tailoring to the individual patient, including a core diabetes module (available in Māori, Pacific and non-Māori/Pacific versions), insulin module, young adult module, smoking cessation module, lifestyle behaviour modules, blood glucose monitoring reminders and preventative behaviour modules. A pilot study with 42 participants recruited from primary and secondary care in WDHB carried out in 2013. Participants reported a range of perceived positive impacts of SMS4BG on their diabetes and health behaviours and HbA1c results indicated a positive impact of the program on glycaemic control. Feedback from the pilot study has allowed for further development and refinement of SMS4BG to be undertaken. A larger scale randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of SMS4BG is now being carried out to inform the decision on whether to scale up and implement the programme.


The primary objective of the SMS4BG RCT is to determine the effectiveness of the SMS4BG in adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to inform the decision on whether to scale up and implement the programme. Recruitment for the 2-arm randomised controlled trial of 1,000 participants is currently underway. Randomisation allocates participants to receive the SMS4BG programme for up to 9 months in conjunction with their usual diabetes care, or to usual diabetes care alone. Recruitment is taking place via primary care and secondary care services. For more information please contact Associate Professor Robyn Whittaker

SMS4BG was recently showcased at MEDTECH – The Medical Technology Exhibition, Auckland
Click here to see Adrienne's story


SPARX is therapy in the format of a game designed to help teens with mild to moderate depression and is also effective with anxiety.  The target age group is 12-19 however other youth can use it too. SPARX uses CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help youth change how they think about things and how they behave which leads to improvements in how they feel. Designed and clinically tested by the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland, SPARX is fully funded by the Ministry of Health so it is free for anyone to use in NZ.