Digital Health Promotion Executive Leadership Summit


Leading experts gather to explore the intersection of technology and health

Public and private sectors showcase new uses of digital
technology to improve the public’s health

Washington, D.C. – More than 80 of the nation’s leading experts in digital health communication from universities, government and the private sector digital industry will meet in Washington, D.C. on June 5 and 6 for the first Digital Health Promotion Executive Leadership Summit.

The summit will explore innovative ways that social media, smart phones and other digital health communication tools are used to address the nation’s most pressing health problems, such as opioid addiction, and will promote public and private partnerships for improved public health outcomes.

“This forum will showcase exciting uses of digital health communication by the public and private sectors, much of which is not yet published in the scientific literature,” says M. Elaine Auld, chief executive officer of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), one of four summit conveners. “We hope to catalyze exchange among these sectors so that we can more rapidly apply what works to improving the public’s health.”

The widespread use of cell phones and associated use of text messaging, mobile applications, mobile websites and wireless digital devices that transmit information to mobile phones in the last decade have created a unique opportunity within the field of health promotion. Likewise, social media sites have demonstrated significant capacity to reach millions of people with health messages and advice. However, despite the growing evidence that supports the use of digital communication in health promotion, there is limited exchange of information between the public and private sectors on how digital communication can be maximized for improving the health of individuals and communities.

The summit was conceived of by John Allegrante, professor of health education at Teachers College and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and the former editor of Health Education & Behavior, the research journal of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), in collaboration with Lorien Abroms, Milken Institute School of Public Health associate professor, Robert Gold, University of Maryland professor and former dean of the School of Public Health and Joe Smyser, Chief Executive Officer of The Public Good Projects. The summit is co-sponsored by SOPHE, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (Milken Institute SPH), the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Public Good Projects.

“We are witnessing a major shift in what we can do to improve health – we already have all the powerful tools of epidemiology and public health – but now with the incredible and expanded impact that the tools of the digital age make possible,” says Dr. Boris Lushniak, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, who will give the event’s keynote speech.

Milken Institute SPH Associate Professor Lorien Abroms and UMD School of Public Health Professor Robert (Bob) Gold (who is also the school’s founding dean) will co-chair the summit and have worked with a blue-ribbon panel of the nation’s digital health communication experts to prepare the program. Co-convener Dr. Joseph Smyser, CEO of the Public Good Projects, a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving health problems through media and marketing, is among the featured speakers, along with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, America’s leading research universities, and major social media and internet search companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Tumblr and Microsoft.

In addition to opioids, speakers will share innovative uses of digital communication to assist veterans, teens and others with mental health issues; prepare communities to prevent or respond to public health emergencies and disease outbreaks; and reach under-represented, diverse populations with effective digital health messages.

“Millions of people already are using smart phones and apps to monitor their health,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. “The summit will highlight some of the exciting advances in mHealth that can help prevent diseases and chronic conditions all over the world.”

The meeting also will work toward developing consensus among public and private sectors on a common agenda to maximize uses of digital technology for advancing the public’s health, as well as a publication of scientific peer-reviewed journal supplement in Health Education & Behavior.

The summit is convening at the Newseum and at Milken Institute SPH. Further details of the summit program are available at the conference website:


Contact: Brigitte W. Johnson, APR, Society for Public Health Education, 202.408.9804 or

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion, and to promote the health of society. SOPHE represents a diverse membership of 4,000 professionals and students who work and learn in various public and private organizations and universities to advance health education theory and research, develop disease prevention and health promotion programs, and promote public policies conducive to health. For more information visit

About The Public Good Projects
The Public Good Projects (PGP) is an evidence-based nonprofit public health monitoring & communication organization. PGP performs two essential functions: Public Health Monitoring Health Behavior Change Communication. PGP is the only organization that harnesses all of media’s big data (television, radio, print news and magazines, online news, video, blogs, and social media) specifically for public health and healthcare. PGP provides historical, real-time, and predictive analytics across multiple topics of public health concern.

About the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,900 students from 54 U.S. states and territories and more than 50 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

About the University of Maryland School of Public Health
The University of Maryland School of Public Health is a dynamic and growing school located just minutes outside of Washington, DC (College Park, Md.) at one of the nation’s top-ranked public research universities. Established in 2007 and accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, our school is educating a diverse student body of more than 3,000 students in undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs. We prepare future leaders to tackle complex and emerging public health issues and make meaningful contributions to the health and welfare of individuals, families, communities and society. We do this utilizing all of the tools of traditional public health disciplines, along with unique expertise in kinesiology and family science and in collaboration with fields as varied as engineering, arts and humanities, business and public policy.