Doc Gurley’s Notes on the SF HealthE Habits Code-a-thon and Winning Demos

The 2012 Health 2.0 San Francisco HealthE Habits Code-a-thon challenged participants to create solutions that enable people to change unhealthy behaviors. One of the return judges, Dr. Jan Gurley, is a clinician. Working with patients, she is always trying to find ways to change their unhealthy behaviors, and knows the difficulty of the task.

Behavior modification is a huge challenge, and creating technology that does so is an even more of a feat. In an interview, Dr. Gurley said of the added difficulty of the HealthE Habits Code-a-thon, “to help people change themselves, you have to know how the person works, not just your application.”

Dr. Gurley noted that the Code-a-thon was full of the usual Developer Challenge excitement, and animation – but with an added twist of intensified purpose. “There was lots of positive, creative energy,” said Dr. Gurley, “and a strong sense of, ‘we’ve got to change this.’ And of people coming together determined to fix this problem.” Participants listened intently to talks that shed light on the difficulties, and possible opportunities surrounding the challenge.

“This challenge was situated in the place where the human psyche and technology intersect,” said Dr. Gurley. “It’s an evolutionary process, most of the easy things have been done,” she said. “We’re moving into the territory of dealing with the harder problems in health care.”

Code-a-thoners take out your note pads; when asked why she thought Gut Guru came out ahead of the competition, Dr. Gurley said it was the well-designed, clean application that made it shine. Perhaps most importantly, she said the Gut Guru team addressed an important issue in a way that was applicable, and could inspire real change in the lives of people living with irritable bowel syndrome.

See what Gurley means by watching the videos below, and check out other winning demos! Watch and take notes of the challenges where innovation meets the code.

First Place: Gut Guru, $4,000 prize

Gut Guru helps patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome manage their bowel symptoms by dietary behavioral modifications. In addition to offering patients a simple and convenient way to track their symptoms and meals, Gut Guru provides an algorithm for personalized diet recommendations to decrease one’s bowel symptoms.

Second Place: Good Mood Food, $3,000 prize

Our internal emotions are powerful in affecting our decisions. Instead of monitoring numbers and taking others’ food suggestions, Good Mood Food (GMF) captures the power of your emotions to guide you toward healthier choices. GMF uses personalized predictive modeling to suggest healthy foods that are linked to your healthy mood. It connects you to the nearest businesses and coupons to easily find the food. And GMF syncs these food choices to your electronic health record.

Third Place: Water APP, $1,000 prize

The goal of Water is to promote long-term, healthy behavioral changes for the user. We do this by delivering personalized challenges that any individual, regardless of socio-economic status, can achieve. The challenges are simple and grow in difficulty as the individual demonstrates adoption of healthy behaviors. The behaviors are motivated by established principles from behavioral science as well as community support and interaction.

Fourth Runner Up: Health Play, $500 prize

Knowledge is power! Rack up points through playing the mini-games (quizzes, scan your food) in the app and you can buy in-game weapons and powerups and engage in a multiplayer health battle with your friend!

Fourth Runner Up: Dig IT, $500 prize

DIG*IT is a suite of apps for chronic disease management. Using principles of habit formation, the goal of DIG*IT products is to help patients establish and sustain habits necessary to manage their medical care, and stay connected to their care providers, support community and personal records. DIG*IT will integrate a variety of technology accessories, automatic data population, various EMRs and other lifestyle-tracking apps.

Fourth Runner Up: iJustAte, $500 prize

An app that allows users to sign up and log their food intake without hassle. The only signup is texting our short code. Afterwards, users can visit the mobile web link sent to them or text the app to log a food that they have eaten. The user is reminded to enter via text at meals. A Health Score is assigned to every food and rates how the user is eating for the week.

Fourth Runner Up: Doc Says, $500 prize

Preventable hospital re-admissions waste $25 billion per year and contribute to excess morbidity and mortality. Poor-discharge plans, medication compliance, and follow-up drive these numbers. DocSays supplants the ineffective discharge sheet or expensive care-team approach with a physician prescribed, patient- centered, mobile solution that enhances medication compliance, follow-up rates, patient education, and inspires incremental lifestyle improvements. Extending the physician’s reach beyond the hospital walls, DocSays will reduce 30-day re-admission rates and initiate long-term healthy habits.