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Creating an app to educate on melanoma
Technology works for younger audiences
For a decade, the Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation in Garden City, NY, has been educating people about the prevention and early detection of skin cancer and melanoma.
Many educational methods have been used to deliver the message, but most recently the foundation produced an app for certain branded forms of handheld technology, because it is embraced by younger consumers. Information at your fingertips is what young people want, says John Biggane, president of the Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation.
It is a good way to reach the foundation's target audience, which is youth in middle school, high school, and college, he adds. According to the New York City-based Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
Mollie, the daughter of John and Maggie Biggane, the foundation co-founders, discovered a mole on her thigh while a sophomore in college and died of melanoma at age 20 following surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
While the software for the app had to be developed, the basic design did not. It was patterned after a bi-fold, wallet-size brochure that was distributed to about 400,000 people via physicians, health fairs, and various organizations. Information includes a five-step skin check; a tracking calendar; the ABCDE's of moles; and details on how to guard against skin cancer. As part of the mole identification, pictures showing the progression of a mole that could be cancerous are included.
"We were so successful with this brochure, we thought if we could present something that was free through technology we would have an even greater audience," explains Maggie.
Getting the word out
In order for the target audience to use the new app, information about it must get out. To get the word out, the foundation distributed a news release to alert the media about the new app in mid-November 2010, when it became available. Also an infomercial was produced for the small viewing devices New York City taxi companies have in the back of their cabs. It ran over the holiday season in December when thousands of tourists come to the city.
The devices in the back of the cabs have proven to be a good educational method as well as ad method, according to John. The Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation created a 30-second PSA to run during May, which is Melanoma Prevention Month. It featured Cara Biggane, who told the story of her sister Mollie's death from melanoma and advised people to become familiar with their skin in order to identify moles that change color.
According to the Bigganes, the foundation received a tremendous response from the PSA, and their daughter was invited to speak about melanoma prevention on several national television shows.
Every picture, as well as the information, must be copyrighted. Also if a photo is used from a second source, permission for its use needs to be documented, the Bigganes explain.
"From a technology standpoint, the process is probably one month or less, but legally it is a three-month process," says John. He advises anyone creating an app to use an attorney in the field of copyright law. Finding someone qualified to develop an app is not difficult, he adds.
Because the app has several photos to assist with mole identification, the developers of the program did have to spend time making sure the resolution in this section of the app was good.
Yet the work should be worth the effort, according to the Bigganes.
"We spent a lot of time and resources trying to educate young people about seeing a dermatologist if they have an elevated freckle or freckle that changes colors. What we do is that overall education," says John.
John and Maggie Biggane, Mollie Biggane Melanoma Foundation, 168 Euston Road, Garden City, NY 11530. Telephone: (516) 877-2537. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.molliesfund.org.