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Friday
Mar282014

Wellapets – A Fun New Revolution in Kids’ Health Education

Alex Ryu

Co-Founder, CEO LifeGuard Games, Inc.


 

 

Wellapets, live on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore, is fundamentally changing the way kids and families manage their health, focusing first on asthma. Wellapets is doing this by teaching and motivating today’s kids in their native language – mobile games.


 

In doing so, Wellapets are taking on the particularly intractable problems of health self-management, health literacy, and stigma. Bringing Wellapets live has been an incredibly fulfilling and exciting journey.


What is a Wellapet?

 

A Wellapet is a fun, lovable fire-breathing dragon that has asthma and lives on your phone or tablet. Because of their asthma, Wellapets can only breathe fire if their asthma is under control. Anyone can adopt and personalize their own Wellapet, and begin playing with and caring for it today!


 

 

Taking good care of your Wellapet, taking good care of you

 

Looking after your Wellapet helps you unlock more collectibles, minigames and rooms for play.

 

Pivoting to Wellapets

 

Wellapets, developed by LifeGuard Games, Inc., was born out of our co-founders’ earlier mHealth application, Remindavax, which helped to coordinate antenatal and maternal care visits in resource-poor settings via SMS and a web application.

Surprisingly, after developing and implementing Remindavax with over 4000 users across rural India, the national Government of India rolled out and mandated the use of their own system, which served the same functions as Remindavax. This left us with few growth opportunities in India, but we took away some of our most valuable lessons in product design and development for healthcare. It was time for a pivot.

After an inspiring speech by Jane McGonigal, a leading serious games thinker and designer, the soon-to-be Wellapets’ co-founders became engrossed with the directing their passion for health toward developing educational games. The opportunity to develop something marketable and meaningful became clear after coming across promising research  demonstrating that games could actually make kids healthier, combined with the lack of products available and a consumer demand for such games.

There was just one minor problem

Our game design experience was limited, generously speaking. Ironically, it was out of this deficit that we made one of our best decisions of all: to model our game after an existing genre. Virtual pets made a lot of sense to us, given their global appeal, timelessness and ability to realistically simulate health. These were also games that had shaped our childhoods – think Neopets, Pokemon and Tamagotchi. So, we set off to build a game with a firm determination not to end up as a gamified tool or a gamified educational experience.

Working from our framework of a virtual pet game, we collaborated with Greg Sawicki, MD, MPH of Boston Children’s Hospital to hone the educational objectives of our game. For months, we struggled to integrate fragmented ideas and messages into meaningful gameplay, but eventually succeeded, thanks to many rounds of testing with early supporters, and collaboration with game industry veterans.

As we continue to race forward, we’ll be adding content to the game, translating for play abroad and developing sequel games as well.

But enough reading for now, check out our free lite version and see what fun you and your family can have with a Wellapet!

Wellapets is available on Google Play and Apple AppStore

Website www.wellapets.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/Wellapets

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Wellapets

 

Friday
Mar212014

CarePredict answers 6 for a startup

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups


 

I recently had the chance to interview Satish Mova, Founder and CEO of CarePredict, a company focused on using wearable technology to reivent the way we can safely grow old in the comfort of our own homes. 

Satish, thanks for answering some questions for Healthy Startups. Firstly, how will CarePredict disrupt the healthcare industry?

We are targeted at the seniors aging in place sector. We are innovating in the sector by being the first wearable sensor technology for seniors and additionally the only one that detects not just activity but also deduces the person's behaviors and deviations from their individualized personal normal baseline, using machine learning and predictive analytics.

What inspired you to launch CarePredict?

CarePredict is my second startup, having successfully started and exited a widely-acclaimed homecare and hospice SaaS software company. I have a knack for seeing a problem and thinking of a viable solution that can be simple and effective.

Keeping an eye on an 86-year-old dad and a 76-year-old mom, while being a parent to 3 very young children, I was constantly juggling time and resources. I visit my parents once a week, and I found on each visit that something had changed since my last visit: Perhaps my dad was taking smaller steps, or shuffling instead of taking steps, because he was retaining water in his ankles; or my mom was spending more time laying down, as her legs were hurting due to an onset of tendinitis. I was not aware of these changes until my next scheduled visit, as my parents didn’t want to bother me.

In one of these instances, my parents ended up in the ER for a condition that could have been treated with a timely medication regimen change. It ultimately took up a lot of our time and resources to visit them in the hospital, as well as make alternate arrangements for taking care of our kids while taking care of my parents' unexpected hospital stay. I hit upon that, if I had known of changes in my parents’ activities and behaviors between my visits to their home, I could have intervened much easier (simply by calling them and asking what is going on and perhaps talking to their nurse or doctor to determine if a clinical intervention is needed).  

While there are clinical remote patient monitoring companies, many of them are for tracking clinical measurements (heart rate, BP, pulse etc.), which only see part of the picture. For instance, they would not have known my mom was laying down more and more or that my dad started shuffling instead of walking.

Other ambient remote monitoring companies put in motion sensors, cameras, switches on toilets, refrigerators etc. to know when something moved to determine activity. But these only track absence of activity, and would not have caught on to the changes that my parents were experiencing individually. Moreover, these technologies fail if more than one person is in the living space, as they can’t distinguish between people.

Where can we learn more about your healthcare startup?

Visit our website www.carepredict.com

Are you bootstrapping or seeking investors? Why?

Bootstrapping, as I was lucky enough to have a successful prior exit and also have the support of family and friends in the new venture. Because we are a hardware, software and services company, we do intend to seek institutional investors when the time is right to accelerate our growth and to ramp up manufacturing and scale the company.

What is the number one challenge you face in building your healthcare startup?

Getting people excited about the potential awaiting the huge aging-in-place sector. Much of the mindshare is being consumed by apps and wearables for the healthy. But there is more social and financial impact in solving the challenges of the aging population.

What fundamental change will CarePredict bring to healthcare in the next 3-5 years?

I think the use of wearable technologies of all kinds (from body-worn clinical sensors to activity/behavior trackers) will become mainstream. Wearable technologies, while fueling the quantified self, will have a greater role to play in specific populations such as people with chronic conditions and seniors aging in place. Consequently, they will have a greater impact in reducing the burden on our healthcare system.

Without the use of machine learning and machine-based monitoring that CarePredict is pioneering, which triggers just-in-time social and clinical interventions, we cannot keep up with the financial and resource demands of a rapidly aging population — not just in the US, but in other parts of the developed and emerging world.

Thanks Satish!

If you are interested in answering 6 for a startup to promote your innovative work in healthcare email Jason. 

 

Friday
Mar142014

A quick download from today's Connect Digital Health Summit

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups


 

Today I was lucky enough to attend the Connect Expo 2014 Digital Health Summit in Melbourne, Australia*. It's after 11:45pm on Friday (AEST) as I type this and I'm exhausted, but I wanted to write up a quick post about the day before I jump into some more detailed reflection and analysis of the conference next week:

  • Far and way the most interesting and engaging presentation of the day was the case study The digital hospital in action: a sneak peak of St Stephen's Hervey Bay. The presentation was delivered by Richard Royle, Executive Director UnitingCare Health Queensland

    See more at the Connect Digital Health Summit website 
  • If you have been following this blog for some time you will know of my interests in UI/UX in healthcare and health clinic/ hospital design. St Stephen's Hervey Bay will be Australia's premier digital hospital boasting clinician driven design that delivers enhanced services to patients. The hospital will be a showcase of how digital technologies shape the healthcare experience. The AU$ 87.5 million project is set to be completed in September 2014
  • The chance to hear more from my colleague Lissanthea Taylor from Rise Healthcare Group, healthinnov8.com and HealthTech Sydney Meetup Group on collaboration and community building to drive innovation in health
  • The 'best' part of the event was the chance to meet so many innovators and champions of digital health. When you live outside the USA you can sometimes develop the impression that innovation, startup, mhealth, quantified self and technology culture is all driven out of Silicon Valley. Yet, all the way out in Australia, there are startups, accelerators, entrepreneurs, doctors, patients, software and IT vendors, cloud technologies, mobile applications that are changing the way, and even leading the way, in which we deliver healthcare in to the future. More on that soon!


I also spent a lot of time on the trade show floor speaking with people from Tunstall Healthcare, uHealth, BluePoint (who gave me a chance to try the awesome Chromebook Pixel!), Ruckus Wireless, Cruiser Interactive and (saved the most awesome for last) GE Healthcare.


All in all, a most awesome day. Now... I must sleep! 

 

* Disclosure: I received a complimentary media pass to attend the Connect Expo 2014 Digital Health Summit.

Wednesday
Feb262014

I don't give a f___ about (insert cause here)

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups

 

 

Don't think for a second that I give a f___ about (insert cause here). I've just found a way to make a lot of money.

 

I once overheard those words spoken by someone from a PR agency that specialised in developing and implementing healthcare campaigns. This agency ran campaigns that help to raise money for healthcare research (I really can't say any more than that, so don't ask any questions).

When I heard those words, I felt sick to the stomach. Don't mistake me for some sort of kumbaya singing hippie! I am very focused on earning money, but I believe in doing so ethically and I believe that it is fine to earn money by helping others and by doing something that you love. In fact, the concept of 'do what you love' led me to launching Healthy Startups.

Do I really have to care to win?

It's ultimately up to you. I can't tell you what to do. I'm sure I could make a lot more money consulting to mining companies or supermarket chains, but I don't really care whether they succeed or not. 

There are a whole number of reasons why I love, and care about, working in healthcare communications and social media and if you have been following this blog, I don't need to explain them to you. The truth is that there is a lot of money in healthcare and there is a lot of money to be made consulting to medical clinics, pharmaceutical companies, startups, hospitals, research organisations, patient groups (and more). Again, I don't believe there is anything wrong with making money.

I have a heart condition. My own experiences in healthcare motivated me to pursue a career in healthcare PR, and ultimately to work with startups and on social media in healthcare. I love what I do and I'm proud to give a f___ about it!  

 

* apologies to FCUK for using their logo in this post.

Thursday
Feb132014

10 most popular health startup and social media posts in 2013

Jason Berek-Lewis
Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups

 


I can't quite believe that in November 2013 Healthy Startups turned 3! Here I am, here we are, years after this first post. 2013 was the biggest year yet for traffic to Healthy Startups - and there were many more 'pay offs' from the effort that I have put in to the site: I finally got paid to work with, and consult to, healthcare startups and I was invited to speak at conferences and to attend conferences that I otherwise would never have gone to.

In 2013 my biggest 'ROI' from Healthy Startups was the awesome opportunity to network with, support and learn from entrepreneurs and innovators all across the world who share one dream - to change healthcare for the better.  

Let's work together to make 2014 awesome! 

Here are the 10 most popular posts on Healthy Startups in 2013


10. Regulation, risk and the 'go slow' in healthcare innovation

A post that I am super proud of and likely the most 'political' piece I have written for the site. Why are startups are driving change in healthcare? They are agile, fast and largely free of the red tape and vested interest politics that have caused our health systems to stagnate. 

9. Nutrislice answers 6 for a startup

A great example of how a platform like Healthy Startups can help to promote the awesome work of innovators in healthcare.

8. Attack of the healthcare startup clones

A homage to sci fi and a look at why imitation is sometimes better than innovation.

7. 5 reasons why your health app will fail

A few tips on building an engaging app that helps people to be healthier. 

6. The biggest UI and UX challenge in healthcare (it's not what you think)

Another post that I am incredibly proud of - I know that sounds arrogant, but this is some of my best thinking about design in healthcare (something that I am super passionate about).

5. 7 ways to get more media coverage for your startup - right now!

It's about time I put all that 'spin doctoring' to good use!

4. Doctors are the new search engines

A post that could be about the perils of ePatients or a homage to the intellectual giants in our health systems.

3. Why your medical practice needs a social media strategy

Does a small medical practice really need to be active on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter... Do they really need a social media strategy?

2. 100 trends that will change healthcare

A massive list chronicling the massive changes that technology, mobile networks, ePatients, social media, startups and innovators will bring to healthcare into the future.

1. Startups: Do 1 thing

This seemed like a throw away post. It took me a handful of minutes to write, yet it is the most read post on the site. Is it the headline? You tell me.

 

I'm excited to continue on this journey in 2014. Please let me know which topics, trends or ideas you think I should explore on the site in 2014. Also, let me know if you would like to contribute to the site in 2014. I can't pay for guest posts, but I can give you access to a world wide audience that is engaged, passionate and excited about the potential to change healthcare in 2014 and beyond.

Thanks so much for all your support!