Our Health Informatics & Technology Research


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, evaluates national health informatics and health IT projects, and is responsible for health infromatics education and training at the University of Auckland.

The research team comprises a public health medicine specialist, study manager, data manager and biostatistician, and collaborates widely with other experts and groups in New Zealand and overseas.


 Our current research highlights


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.

 The TextMATCH project is led by Dr Robyn Whittaker. For more information about TextMATCH please contact Rosie Dobson (r.dobson@auckland.ac.nz)


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.

Dr Robyn Whittaker is the Principal Investigator of the SMS4BG RCT and Rosie Dobson is the Study Co-ordinator. For more information about SMS4BG please contact Rosie (r.dobson@auckland.ac.nz)