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New apps emerge to assist better healthcare behaviours

· Mobile Zone

At the heart of a shift in healthcare focus towards prevention rather than cure is an acceptance of the need to change behaviours.  So it was pleasing to see a number of solutions at the recent Health 2.0 conference that were aiming to take on that difficult challenge.

One of the more interesting was the Austrian based diabetes app mySugr.  The app was aimed at younger users and takes a gamified approach to changing user behaviours towards something slightly healthier.

The service has gained significant traction, despite being relatively new, with well over 100,000 users and a successful funding round earlier this year.  mySugr is divided into two strands, with mySugr Junior aimed directly at younger diabetes sufferers, and mySugr Companion aimed at older users.

Both offer a range of management tools to allow users to record their food consumption and get various reminders around safe behaviour.  What really sets it apart however are the challenges that gamify the whole process.

This is particularly important as it allows both child and parent to take control of their treatment.  Children can, for instance, calculate their blood glucose levels or take instagram style photos of their meal.  This information is then pushed to the smartphone of their parent at the same time.  Granted, if the child is about to sneak in a Big Mac or something, I’m sure they’d quickly learn not to share it with their parents, but it’s an interesting feature of an interesting app.

Buddy App

The final interesting service I encountered at the event was Buddy App.  The name is a slight misnomer in that it isn’t an app in the modern, mobile sense of the word, but is a mental health application (they were formed before the app explosion rather kidnapped the abbreviation).

Buddy provides a digital tool that enables mental health sufferers to keep a daily diary of how they’re feeling, what they get up to and so on.  Updates are made via text message, and the app then provides a range of analytic type tools to help identify trends and reinforce positive behaviours.

It’s a nice approach because it uses the analytics to highlight particular trends, and then uses SMS based alerts and reminders to try and reinforce particular behaviours based upon those insights.

It’s a nice support tool for what is a very challenging condition to manage.  As you can see, there are a host of different services and apps being developed to tackle the thorny issue of behaviour modification.  It will be interesting to see the outcome of this veritable cambrian explosion in the coming years as they digest (hopefully) large numbers of users.

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