Tag Archives: health

Rise: Affordable and Reliable Personal Nutrition Coaching

Rise is a new nutrition coaching app that makes it affordable to have structured, personal, and specialized nutrition coaching. Your personal diet coach gives you daily feedback and advice based on what you eat and what types of habits you keep. The feedback is tailored to each individual’s changing lifestyle.

The app makes interacting with a personal nutritionist easy. By taking photos of every snack and meal, you are giving your nutritionist a reliable way to shape your diet in real time. The app itself is well designed, although taking pictures of every meal takes a little getting used to. My coach was friendly and experienced. The personal attention I got made me more cognizant of what I was eating and when. After spending several days in Las Vegas and eating haphazardly, her appraisals of my meals made me focus on eating fruits and vegetables upon arriving back at home. The coaching works – and the native interface doubles as a food diary. It’s definitely an app to try on the way to modifying eating habits for the better.

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Wello: Your Very Own Vital Sign Monitor

Azoi, a healthcare technology company, is now taking pre-orders for their first product release, Wello. Wello is a vital sign monitoring device embedded within a mobile phone case. Users place their fingers on the top and back of the case with the screen held horizontally, display pointed towards them. The Wello app displays captured and calculated health stats, which can also be shared with family, friends, and caregivers. Data include blood pressure, electrocardiography (ECG), heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, lung function and more. By improving health awareness, the creators of Wello hope that it can help users make more informed lifestyle choices.

According to the World Health Organization, 347 million people have diabetes, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and hypertension afflicts nearly a billion people globally. Wello aims to combat these trends by encouraging regular monitoring as a preventative measure, empowering users with the knowledge to identify potential issues and seek advice before they become serious illnesses.

Key Factors Wello Measures:

  • Blood Pressure: Monitors blood pressure easily and accurately. More importantly with multiple readings you begin to see patterns that cause spikes or dips.
  • ECG: Takes an ECG reading without all the fussy wires. An ECG is nothing but mapping the electrical signals of the heart.
  • Heart Rate: Measures and keeps a track of your heart rate or pulse. Your pulse provides glimpses into your state of fitness, potential heart problems or other illnesses.
  • Blood Oxygen: Helps measure your blood oxygen levels, which if low can be dangerous.
  • Temperature: Quickly and easily reads body temperature with the welcome convenience of tracking it. So you know how a fever behaves over time.
  • Lung Function: Reads how much air you can inhale and exhale which may point towards possible obstructions or underlying conditions.

Wello plans to ship in Fall 2014, pending FDA approval.

 

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Noom: Weight Loss is Better Together

Noom is a wellness company that recently launched their first iPhone app, Noom Weight. Unlike other food-tracking apps, Pro users are automatically put into a Noom chat group with other users, creating a small community of people who are ‘on your side.’ In the group, you can track each member’s meals and comment on their decisions throughout the day. The community also encourages people to share tips and share photos/recipes of their meals, creating an environment focused on eating well. The simplicity of logging foods into the app makes it easy to be consistent.

The company also has Noom Walk and Noom Cardio – both on Andriod devices, to help track steps and workouts. Noom is great for Andriod users – it combines data on both eating and exercise habits onto one central backend, but for iOS users, Noom Weight is the only app currently available.

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Gero Lab: Using Everyday Movement to Predict Risk of Age-Related Diseases

Locomotome, as coined by the Human Locomotome Project is a set of human locomotive data that can be analyzed to predict human stress levels and proclivity of age-related metabolic or degenerative disorders.

Gero Lab, a new and burgeoning company in this space, has been collecting locomotome data to discover markers of age-related diseases and evaluate the clinical importance of these markers. They have an app that collects initial answers to health questions and then uses activity data from devices like FitBit, Jawbone, and Bodymedia to further cement their locomotome models. Users are then sent metrics on their neurological state and potential health conditions, increasing their awareness of various health factors important for early prevention and lifestyle changes.

Gero co-founder Vera Kozyr answers some of my questions below.

What was the driving force to create Gero? What are the company’s goals?

We were originally studying different biological signals including transcriptome and genome signals, looking for signatures of aging and associated chronic deceases. Then we realized that the locomotome signal is extremely rich and much more convenient to gather, so we adjusted all our mathematical models and algorithms for it. The goal of our company is to create a convenient (non-invasive and seamless) and reliable tool for the early stage diagnosis of different diseases.

How can data collected and used in Gero models be translated into action items for users?

Awareness is very important when it comes to health. Early warnings can be impactful, especially for slowly developing health conditions. For example, life-style changes during the early stages of diabetes type 2 can significantly slow down the development of the disease or even reverse it. In the future, after passing FDA approval, GERO technology could also be used by doctors for preventative measures.

What are some of the most interesting bits of data that you have gathered so far? What is to come?

The key takeaways of our first 3,000 Fitbit study (finished in November of last year) are:

  • Motor activity contains signatures of particular chronic deceases (metabolic, psychiatric and neurological)
  • Low-resolution trackers (e.g. Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.) can also be used with GERO’s mathematical model with sufficient tracking time
  • We are already passed the proof of concept phase to detect particular health conditions with accuracy

We keep working on increasing the accuracy of our algorithms. Along with disease risks and trends, we have learned to detect biological age and gender. At the moment we are focusing on diabetes and soon will publish some of our very interesting findings.

How does the app / data interface help users?

As we are still in the research stage we don’t claim that our app helps users at the moment. It collects activity data and helps to develop our technology. Individual health reports that we will release to our participants of course might potentially help by giving awareness of health conditions and showing their trends.

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CarePredict: Monitoring Aging Parents for the Tech Generation

Millions of Americans take care of their aging parents while managing work and raising their own families. These adults are part of the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ and are constantly on call to help ailing family members. One of the toughest and most time consuming activities to do as a part-time informal caretaker is to track behaviors and note subtle day-to-day fluctuations that might hint towards bigger issues. CarePredict, founded by Satish Movva, founder of ContinuLink, is a wearable device company that assists adult children in tracking their aging parents’ health and activities.

The Tempo is the company’s first device, which tracks the wearer’s location within the home and learns their normal pattern of movement. Cleverly named, when there is a potential concerning change to the users daily tempo (in activities such as standing, walking, and sitting), the device notifies all caregivers in a text or email about the discrepancy.

The sensor is easy to wear and detects different motions. This motion data is transmitted wirelessly to the CarePredict beacon, which understands the location of the user and sends all the data from the wearable to CarePredict’s servers for analysis. The data can be monitored from an online account or smartphone app. CarePredict, currently taking pre-orders, is slated to launch next month.

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Pact: Beautiful Redesign Incentivizes You to Keep Healthy Habits

Pact (formerly GymPact) relaunched this year with a new name and new features. The app penalizes you ($5 charge minimum per missed event), for not reaching your pre-set fitness, eating, and diet goals. On the flip side, you are monetarily rewarded for every goal you do reach.

For exercise, you can check into a gym, use apps like RunKeeper and Moves, or activity trackers like the Jawbone UP or Fitbit devices to measure your steps. For fruit and veggie tracking, you take a photo of your meal and post it on Pact to be reviewed and accepted/declined by others in the Pact community. The diet portion requires you to track your meals using MyFitnessPal.

The new app is designed cleanly and is easy to use, updating information from trackers and apps almost immediately. Weekly emails confirm how much you owe vs. earned.

Pact isn’t failsafe and people who want to cheat by checking into gyms they pass on the street or entering bogus meal info into MyFitnessPal can still earn the $0.10 to $0.30 per event – but with such low dollar values, it’s not worth it. With Pact I check my UP steps throughout the day, making sure that I get to 10,000 steps before the day is over because in the end it isn’t earning 25 cents that matters to me, but losing the $10. Pact is slowly changing my habits and it’s a great way to kickstart a health goal.

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MyFitnessPal: Surprising Data Spurs Behavioral Change

As part of Lift’s Quantified Diet Project, I’ve been tracking my calories since January 1st using the free MyFitnessPal app. I’ve previously disliked the thought of tracking every meal and snack, unconvinced that tracking only calories was helpful in a diet plan. After using the app for a month, I’m very appreciative to have a sense of what types of foods I eat, how much I snack (a lot) and just how little consistent exercise I do. And of course my lifestyle is slowly changing for the better.

While calorie tracking seems tedious and the manual entry outdated, the task of consciously knowing what you eat everyday and how much you burn off gives, at the very least, a sense of awareness. Who knew that on average my snacking added an extra 500 calories a day, or that I overeat the most when the food choices are Mexican or Italian? There are over 3 million foods in the MFP database so what you are eating is most likely in there – or you can add it. The barcode scanner takes out a lot of typing and you can create pre-set meals for your favorite/most often cooked items.

During this month, I’ve started to eat healthier, eat less, and actually lost a couple of pounds. For those concerned more about the breakout of nutrition, MFP differentiates carbs, fats and protein along with vitamins. There is no food that is ‘bad,’ but there are amounts that can be. So for now I can still eat chocolate covered almonds and peanut butter filled pretzels (thanks, Costco!) but I’m aware of the extra exercise I need with every bite.

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First Opinion: Personalized Doctor Messaging, Designed for Moms

Sometimes all you need is a first opinion. Designed especially for moms, First Opinion gives users the ability to text an assigned doctor via the app during any time of day. All First Opinion users are paired with a doctor who is also a mom. Subscription based at $9/month, the user is connected with the same doctor for every subsequent exchange. Frequent topics doctors can help with include illness, pregnancy, child development, nutrition, lactation and sleep training.

I tried the app to ask what I should do about a nagging cough. Within an hour of signing up, I was matched to Dr. Preet, who messaged me her recommendations to soothe the cough. The recommendations were fairly organic, which is not a surprise since she can’t prescribe over the app. In fact, to get past HIPAA at the moment, my information remains anonymous, except for the information that I choose to share via chat. The fast, responsive messaging and thorough follow-up makes the app a great tool for concerned parents. With a recent fundraise, First Opinion is geared to support more doctor consults for first time moms.

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Founder Interview: Jon Pearce, CEO of Zipnosis – Online Diagnosis and Treatment is Here

Zipnosis is an online service that diagnoses and treats common medical conditions, 24/7, by a board-certified clinician. Yes – finally a service that can prescribe you medication to common conditions by just knowing current symptoms and past history.

There are existing companies that introduce telemedicine through complex solutions using live streaming video, focused on diagnosing tough conditions. Zipnosis differs by first entering the market to treat all the millions of people with simple, more common conditions.

As Jon Pearce, CEO of Zipnosis, describes it, “If other telemedicine companies are like Blockbuster, Zipnosis is more like Netflix. We are web based and can be used on any device. We’ve been able to build a company that is a true digital platform between a patient and a provider. We are targeting more than just information – we are focused on diagnosis, treatment and triage.”

Busy growing, the company has gone from treating an initial 8-9 conditions to adding about 40 more conditions last year, and focusing this year on triage and chronic conditions. Zipnosis can be used in 14 states and expanding, and is busy partnering with health systems to expand their diversified base of clinicians. Over time, Zipnosis will broaden from treating common conditions to include chronic ones, such as cardiac disease and hyperlipidemia.

What are users saying? The company has over 90% satisfaction rates. The clinicians prescribe by guidelines, giving better, more consistent quality care. “96% of the patients that we talk to tell 3-4 people because it’s so transformative,” Jon says. “We know it works and it works quickly and accurately. People should not be afraid of the way we are offering diagnosis and treatment. It is rooted in clinical data and successes and it is a safe and effect way to get care.”

Zipnosis is leading the way to a new, leaner and faster way to get answers and treatments to immediate health concerns. Jon assured me that California is on their short list of states they will be expanding to, and I look forward to using them. For those in the lucky 14 states, try Zipnosis the next time you need an answer.

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Kinsa Smart Thermometer: World’s First Smart Thermometer and Real-Time Illness Tracking App

Feeling feverish is often the first symptom of getting sick and finally there is a smart thermometer that can calculate, display, and track changes in temperature with one app. The Kinsa Smart Thermometer is beautiful in its design and very easy to use. Not only does it track an individual’s temperature, but it also aggregates geographic health information and user feedback to help understand which illnesses are spreading and where.

I tested Kinsa in beta, and was astonished at how light, flexible and comfortable it is to use. Kinsa is made to be used by the whole family, but is especially well tailored to children. The smartphone display has fun bubbles that makes temperature taking engaging for the fidgety little ones. Each time a temperature is taken, the user can assign it to a person and save the record. Additionally, the precise time of the stored data is helpful information to a doctor.

By the time it is released to the public, Kinsa will have the ability to track the health within private groups (e.g. your child’s classroom, your neighborhood). This innovative spread-of-illness crowdsourcing will be able to create a truly connect, global network of aware families. It also means faster care – if you struck a high temperature and knew that strep was going around, you could head to the doctor when symptoms first appear to get antibiotics and avoid a long recovery.

Something so useful, technology driven, and affordable should be on everyone’s list of must-have health devices. Kinsa is taking pre-orders on their website, to be fulfilled March/April.

 

Kinsa Smart Thermometer from Kinsa on Vimeo.

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