It Only Takes One Call, Click, or Swipe to Save a Life

Across the world, digital crisis services are becoming more common for saving lives in real-time, digital services not only have the power to connect health providers to one another, but also community members to each other. The #GenH challenge is waiting for your big idea!

“Trevor Lifeline. What’s going on?” It’s the sound of a comforting voice on the other end of the phone line… or the text: “How can I support you today?” that can de-escalate a volatile situation of an LGBTQ young person. It’s the type of support that is becoming more common with online therapy such as TalkSpace, BreakThrough, or BetterHelp. But, what’s unique about a local health leader Johnson & Johnson has supported in the past, The Trevor Project, is that it’s specifically serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community through a 24-hour phone line, chat, text, and an online social website, often with the support of LGBTQ counselors.

It's a technology that puts people first, starting with just one phone line in 1998. Oscar winning filmmakers Peggy Rajski, James Lecesne, and Randy Stone founded the crisis line for LGBTQ youth in the United States, based on a concern raised in their Academy Award-winning short fiction film, Trevor about a young gay boy named Trevor who died by suicide. Knowing the stigma that can come with "outing" yourself, the film asked a simple question: how could they help more youth like Trevor receive the services, support, and information they need? From a deeply human need arose a novel tech solution, and since then, hundreds of thousands of youth have reached out to the 24-hour crisis line, TrevorChat and TrevorText. By leveraging tech for human wellness, youth receive support, find community, and connect to other LGBTQ youth via the online platform. From The Trevor Project’s crisis services to social media platforms, the Project’s technology puts youth first, applying the fundamentals of human-centered design to reach and engage youth, living their mantra, “We HEAR you. We’re HERE for you.”

And the Trevor Project is just one example of how applied technology plays a role in community well-being. That human-centered approach to online media, services, and design is what Johnson & Johnson is currently applying in the GenH Challenge, to find the next great idea to ensure underserved communities receive better care through innovation Across the world, digital services and support are becoming more and more common for saving and improving lives in real-time, with the power to connect health providers and community members to one another, along with health education and resources. Here are 3 of our favorite ideas that leverage technology bringing lifesaving results for thousands.

1) mHero

In 2014, Ebola gripped West Africa as every second and minute counted in the race to save lives. What governments, health workers, and aid organizations needed was all the same- on the ground data and information. That’s why IntraHealth International pioneered mHero, a digital messaging service that tracks data in real time to connect health workers in the field to services within the Ministry of Health. Integral in ending the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, mHero was designed within a few weeks through a Hackathon in which developers came together as a community at the UNICEF Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda. The ideas generated for and by the innovation community spurred the rapid development and success for the mHero program. Once again, by putting themselves in the shoes of the person in crisis, in this case the health worker, innovators were able to apply technology to reach, connect, and catalogue lifesaving data on the front lines of care.

2) Peek\n

Human centered design is put at the core of applications like Peek, a portable eye exam app on the smartphone, people in rural settings of Africa and India can be empowered to improve their optical health on-the-go. These smart phone attachements allow commnunities to self examine and submit results for review using the collective support of eyecare professionals, software developers, engineers, and community health workers.

3) B-Wise

B-Wise, a health app created by the South African Ministry of Health and Johnson & Johnson, connects adolescent youth to comprehensive health information and to each other. This creates a peer to peer network to improve access to critical health information and foster support between young people to overcome peer pressure and harmful norms to be empowered in their health.

As digital systems build communities of developers, healthcare professionals, and patients, we are seeing healthcare become more accessible and people becoming healthier. It is community that can save lives with one call, click, or swipe. It is a community of hundreds of thousands of people building online systems, reaching out for support, and creating resiliency together through applications or websites like The Trevor Project’s, mHero, BWise, and Peek, that originated from one idea. So, what’s your idea?

Today, the GenH Challenge is looking to support the next great idea to save lives. Launched by Johnson & Johnson, the GenH Challenge is a global social venture competition harnessing the spark of investment and the power of everyday ideas to change the trajectory of global health. With $1 million USD in cash and other prizes available, find out how your everyday idea could be the next innovation to help create the healthiest generation- “GenH.” Apply today at

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

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