Fitbit launches native app for Windows 8.1 smartphones

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 29, 2014        

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Fitbit for WindowsActivity tracker company Fitbit launched a native app for Windows 8.1 that integrate data from a user’s Fitbit device via Bluetooth. The company said they are the first company to offer an app for Windows 8.1 that directly syncs to a digital health device.

The app has most of the features that are also in the iOS and Android versions of the app including food logging features, statistics and graphs that show the user’s past activity, motivational reminders to stay active, and a social network in which users share fitness updates with the Fitbit community. Fitbit’s iOS app is still the only version of the Fitbit app that offers passive activity tracking features. It does so by using the iPhone’s M7 processor.

“At Fitbit, we know that giving our users instant access to real-time stats right on their smartphone increases motivation to achieve goals and, ultimately, make healthier choices,” Fitbit CEO James Park said in a statement. “Windows Phone is projected to be the fastest-growing smartphone OS platform, so supporting this platform is important so that all of our users have access to their stats, no matter which phone they choose.”

News site Neowin also pointed out that along with this launch, Microsoft and Fitbit are offering a bundle price for the Fitbit Flex and the new Nokia phone, Nokia Lumia 635.

Fitbit is not the only digital health company in recent weeks launch an app specifically for Windows Phone users. Last week, electronic health record company Allscripts launched a native app for Windows 8.1 devices, called Allscripts Wand.

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Study: iPad-based HIV prevention game increased adolescents’ knowledge of the disease

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 29, 2014        

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PlayForwardChildren who played iPad-based HIV prevention game PlayForward: Elm City Stories knew more about HIV risk than those that played other video games, according to an oral abstract on a randomized control trial of 198 adolescents presented at the AIDS conference this week. The mean age of children in this trial was 13.

The NIH-funded video game was developed by Yale University Associate Research Scientist Dr. Kim Hieftje and Associate Professor of Medicine Dr. Lynn Fiellin.

“We know there’s this optimal window in which we think we can really inform and engage adolescents before they start having sex,” Hieftje said at Games for Health last year. “So we really wanted to focus on that window right before they start engaging in sexual activity so we are looking at ages 10 to 14. This age is really active in playing video games as well.”  Keep reading>>

Researchers use iPhone tracking app in yearlong microbiome study

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 29, 2014        

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microbiome studyA new longitudinal study of the microbiome from researchers at Harvard and MIT demonstrates how the ubiquity of a smartphone enables research that would have been much more difficult previously. In the study, two patients tracked a number of health factors on an iPhone app for a year and also took stool samples almost every day. Researchers analyzed the bacteria in the stool samples alongside the health tracking data, to see what impact the subjects’ lifestyle had on their microbiome, or the ecosystem of bacteria living in their digestive tract.

Subjects used a modified version of a database app called TapForms to track 13 parameters: ailments, bowel movements, daily notes, diet, exercise, fitness, location change, medication, mood, oral hygiene, sleep, urination, and vitamin intake. The two subjects were selected partially based on a screening process for people who would be meticulous about data entry.

“Our findings suggest that although human-associated microbial communities are generally stable, they can be quickly and profoundly altered by common human actions and experiences,” the researchers wrote.

Most of the data scientists had subjects collect turned out to be irrelevant to the microbiome. That’s still valuable information, as it allows future studies of this kind to be more focused in their tracking.  Keep reading>>

Mobile-enabled weight loss company for kids Kurbo Health raises $5.8M

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 29, 2014        

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Kurbo Health iPhone appPalo Alto, California-based Kurbo Health, which is developing a mobile-enabled program aimed at preventing childhood obesity, has raised $4 million new funding in addition to the $1.8 million we reported on in May. The round was led by Signia Ventures and other investors include Data Collective, Bessemer Venture Partners, Promus Ventures, and angel investors: Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Greg Badros, former VP of Engineering and Product at Facebook. Kurbo also has some funding from the Rock Health accelerator, which is joined late last year.

In addition to the funding announcement Kurbo has commercially launched its program for iOS users today. An Android version is planned for launch in September. After the free trial period, a Kurbo subscription can cost anywhere from $10 a month to $75, depending on the plan chosen and amount of coaching included.

Kurbo Health cofounder and CEO Joanna Strober started the company with Thea Runyan, a lead behavior coach at Stanford’s pediatric weight control program. According to a blog post, Strober describes the program as offering “proven tracking methodologies and virtual coaching to help adolescents control their weight using their favorite tool — their cell phone”. Strober was inspired to found the company after trying to help her son lose weight.

“There really aren’t any good weight loss programs out there for kids other than ones that are run through hospital-based programs, but they are very expensive and very time-consuming,” Strober said in a video on the company’s website. “There are… great university-based programs that have been very effective in helping kids to lose weight. We wanted to replicate the best of those programs in an online-mobile system.”  Keep reading>>

PhysIQ raises $4.6M to commercialize its digital health analytics platform

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 29, 2014        

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PhysIQNaperville, Illinois-based PhysIQ raised $4.6 million in a round led by LionBird for its digital health analytics platform. This brings the company’s total funding to $5.6 million.

“What we’re bringing to market is a personalized analytics approach to monitoring physiology,” PhysIQ CEO Gary Conkright told MobiHealthNews. “Rather than comparing physiological measurements to group population norms, we build a personalized model for each patient so that we can compare you to you instead of comparing you to what is normal for a population. That allows us to see exacerbations earlier than other approaches. It also allows us to develop an index for change — so we boil all of this information down into an index that allows clinicians or the consumer to easily see, intuitively see, what has changed from the past.”  Keep reading>>

Study: Rewards boost enrollment, but not sustained engagement

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 29, 2014        

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my Health eSupportRewards-based systems work to bring people into an online health management program, but they don’t do much to encourage sustained engagement, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Internet Medical Research.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, looked at 140,000 potential users of an online health intervention called My Health eSupport. About half of the patients were recruited via an airline miles website, with the promise of 10 frequent flyer miles for completing a health risk assessment and an additional 10 miles for enrolling in the support program. The other half were simply recruited via the Heart and Stroke Risk Foundation website.

The rewards were successful in getting sign-ups: 52 percent of the experiment group enrolled in the program, compared to just 4 percent of the control group. Researchers found people gaining rewards were 27 times as likely to enroll. Both groups dropped off dramatically before the next step after enrolling, “assessing their readiness for change and selecting a priority area for lifestyle change.” Only 13 percent of the rewards group and 8 percent of the control group completed that step. Keep reading>>