After a year of development and "app experiments," 100Plus, a startup backed by, among others, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel's Founder Fund and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, is debuting in public beta. The app combines little actions with big data to motivate users to lead generally healthier, more active lifestyles.
"There's quite a lot of literature that just being more active in your daily life is as good or even better than exercising a lot," CEO Chris Hogg told MobiHealthNews, citing this 1999 JAMA study and recent coverage in the New York Times Well blog.
In addition, Hogg said, getting people to be active in little ways -- like taking the stairs rather than an elevator -- is easier than getting them to make a big life change, like adding the gym into their weekly routine.
"Everybody wants to be healthier, but most people don't know what to do," he said. "They know in the abstract, but giving people very concrete suggestions is very motivating for them. They want this little nudge."
The 100Plus app presents users with a series of health opportunities or "Hopps", which are tailored specifically to their neighborhood. Initially these will be created by the developer, but as people adopt the app they'll be able to create their own Hopps, which can then be served to others. The app will launch with nearly 18,000 Hopps in 7,000 different locations.
"So not just 'eat a salad,' but 'eat a salad at this restaurant that's close to you,' " Hogg said.
Users check in as having completed their Hopp by taking a picture, and the app rewards them with a fact about that activity and why it's good for you, and with an update to their "LifeScore." The LifeScore is the other big component of 100plus: Using data from the CDC and EHR provider Practice Fusion, the app adds and subtracts years, months, weeks or days to the user's life expectancy. It mostly adds.
"We plan to get more and more data from people over time," Hogg said. "Without data, we assume you're average. And then [based on] everything we learn about you, your score changes."
The app will calculate a basic score based on age, gender, city of residence, and whatever other information the user chooses to provide during an introductory survey. Each Hopp completed will adjust the score a little bit in an upward direction. Hogg said that people instantly understand adding weeks or months to one's life, as opposed to using an abstract or artificial scale.
Rather than launching a lengthy private beta, Hogg and his team tested the waters with two smaller "app experiments" over the course of the year. The first, 100proof, was localized to film and music festival South by Southwest. Seven thousand attendees downloaded the app and took an interactive survey about their drinking habits at the festival. In turn, the app displayed data about how they compared to others at the festival and to national averages and told them how the habit would affect their lifespan.
"There's a myth that people don't want to give you information," said Hogg. "From 100Proof, we learned that people are very interested in giving you this type of data, especially when they get something cool in return. It kind of proved that data can be used to engage people, to make a fun experience."
More recently, the company developed an app called Outside, which is how the team derived the idea of using photographs to help engage people in their achievements, Hogg said.
The company plans to submit the app to the iOS App Store within a month or so, Hogg said, and the Android version is expected by the end of February. In the meantime, customers can sign up for the public beta at 100plus.com.
In addition to going direct to consumer, the company has signed a deal with a major employer to include 100plus as part of their health plan, with some others in the works.
The company also signed a new deal with Practice Fusion to get access to another 1 million de-identified health records from the company, information Hogg said will be invaluable in refining their LifeScore algorithm.
In the future, 100Plus is looking to integrate with self-tracking apps and gadgets. Hogg said that integrating with RunKeeper, so that users' LifeScores go up when they run, is at the top of his list. He said they're also in conversation with Jawbone UP and Sonny Vu of Misfit Wearables.