Case Synopsis

The Collective Comfort project (CC project) is a mobile health (mHealth) pilot project created by the Digital Innovation team in the Education Department at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The CC project provides safe, online social support networks—a crucial social determinant of health—that are accessible everywhere to people who have anxiety disorders.

Unfortunately, funding has come to an end for this pilot project. CAMH’s Director of Education, Heather Grohl, and her team are tasked with repurposing the CC project mobile application for three organizations—the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, Homeless Hub, and Veterans Affairs Canada. These organizations are seeking a digital innovation that would allow their social support groups to be accessed through mobile phones. However, Heather’s boss, the President of CAMH Education, has only approved pitching to one organization. Therefore, her team must divide into three smaller teams to develop a proposal appropriate for each organization. The pitch will consist of a user persona, problem scenarios, user stories, and a prototype that is based on the CC project’s template design. Each pitch will be specifically tailored to the respective organization’s unique needs. The teams are also expected to develop one new innovative feature for the mHealth application that they believe would be useful for their specific organization. For example, an application for the Homeless Hub could incorporate a feature that displays homeless shelters in the area. Each of the teams will then present their prospective pitches to Heather and the President of CAMH Education, who will together decide the winning proposal based on which one best balances both creativity and feasibility.

Case Objectives

1. Understand and critically discuss the strengths and challenges of an mHealth innovation.

2. Identify the unique needs of a specific population using research and experience to: design a population-based mHealth social support application that meets the unique needs of its users (population) while working under a time constraint with incomplete and imperfect information; present the audience-appropriate, public health informatics context both orally and in writing

Case Study Questions

1. Why and how is social support a crucial social determinant of mental health? What is the role of mobile technology applications in providing social support?

2. What are the major strengths and major challenges of using mHealth technology to address mental health issues in the field of public health?

3. What processes and resources would be required to find the information necessary to best create these personas, problem scenarios, user stories, and prototypes for each organization?

4. How could the financial and technological sustainability of an mHealth intervention be maintained?


Health technology; innovation; mental health; mHealth application; public health informatics; social support

Additional Author Information

Julie Zasada, BHSc, MPH

Andrew Johnson, Manager, Patient and Family Education

Shannon L. Sibbald, PhD, Assistant Professor



Recommended Citation

Zasada, J., Johnson, A. & Sibbald, S.L. (2019). Sustainable mHealth Innovations: Repurposing The Collective Comfort Pilot Project. In: Sibbald, S.L. & McKinley, G. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2019. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.