Health 2.0: Self Management Tools and Trackers

A session at the Health 2.0 conference featured smart phone apps and other tools designed to improve care, save money, and help users control their health.

In a session titled “Self Management Tools and Trackers” at last week’s Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco, representatives of six companies presented smart phone apps and other tools designed to improve care, save money, and help users take control of their health.

They were as follows:

QuickCheck Health: In an attempt to reduce the cost of medical testing, QuickCheck has produced a device that consumers can purchase at a pharmacy and use in their own home to test for a variety of conditions. In a test for urinary tract infection, for instance, users would dip a strip into their urine, put it in the device, and then receive a code that they would enter at QuickCheck’s website to find out whether the test was positive or negative. The company has so far developed the device to test for urinary tract infections and plans to seek FDA approval for this purpose soon. It hopes to adapt the device for 16 other types of test, including strep throat, A1C blood glucose, cholesterol, and STDs as well. To listen to an interview we conducted at Health 2.0 with QuickCheck president, CEO, and founder Tom Henke, click here.

textWeight: Once users sign up for this app, they receive a daily text asking them for their weight. After texting it in, they receive weight-control tips and feedback on their progress toward their target weight. Users also have access to more extensive Web-based data tools and can send out information on their performance via social networks. The app may be adapted in the future for use with conditions including diabetes, in which users would receive text reminders to measure their blood glucose and messages would be sent to their friends if they fail to respond.

Simplee: This Web-based application connects with a user’s health insurance information and organizes it in a comprehensible, useful manner. It aggregates information on how much one is paying out of pocket, whether one has fulfilled one’s deductible, and how much one is responsible for in a particular procedure. It also includes a means of paying medical providers directly. The app’s ultimate mission is to give users the information they need to choose the plan that best meets their needs going forward.

WellApps: Founder and CEO Brett Shamosh explained that he was inspired to create this line of apps based on his own experience with ulcerative colitis over the last two decades, during which he found he fell short in monitoring his condition and communicating it to his doctors. An app tailored to a given condition gathers all relevant information from the patient (e.g., meals, medications, symptoms, etc.,.) and synthesizes it into a status report that can be taken to their next doctor's visit. The apps are developed in consultation with physicians to ensure that they include relevant information. Users can also go online and use graph functions to investigate correlations between symptoms and factors such as dietary variation or medication dosing changes.

ginger.io: This smart phone app passively collects data about user activities including frequency of texts and calls, as well as movement (measured via the smart phone's accelerometer), and correlates them with symptoms. It complements the passive data with clinical questionnaires, and then provides feedback to users so they can alter their behavior to produce better results.

foo.log: This smart phone app aims to make tracking what one eats at each meal as easy as snapping a photograph and uploading it. The app then uses an algorithm to guess what the meal consists of and how many calories it contains. Over time, the app gets better at recognizing regular meal components. (Note: The company's website currently appears to be in Japanese only.)