Sensei mHealth App Coaches Diabetics Virtually

Friday, June 10th, 2011
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Forget Angry Birds. There’s a new app on the market, and it’s promising to be a lot better for your health.

Sensei, Inc., a technology company that designs mobile health, or mHealth solutions, has been awarded a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant for diabetes and prediabetes research in association with the University of Miami, the Miami VA healthcare System, and the Health Foundation of South Florida. Together, they will trial Sensei’s new mobile application for diabetes and prediabetes users.

The application encourages simple lifestyle changes through personalized expert guidance. Users’ mobile devices are transformed into virtual health coaches that personally guide them to better health through healthier nutrition, fitness, weight loss and tips on self management.

Research shows that modest lifestyle changes, including losing weight and increasing activity, can improve or delay the onset of diabetes in almost 50 percent of cases, according to the Diabetes Prevention Program. Participants in this trial will be prompted to measure key biometric data, eat healthier, and learn and practice appropriate self management of diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. There will be daily health coach alerts that teach and create calls to action supplemented by a daily agenda and reference information around the different conditions and wellness.

Mobile Health, or mHealth, the utilization of mobile devices to improve health outcomes, is emerging as an important technology not only for developed countries but for developing countries as well. According to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80 percent of countries across the globe are using mobile phone technology in different ways to improve their health services. In fact, only 19 of the 114 studied countries have no mobile health initiative, although many of the initiatives in place are at the pilot stage. The most popular mHealth programs globally are mobile technology call centers, emergency services management, including toll-free telephone services, telemedicine services like text messaging with pill reminders and health information and transmission of tests and lab results, and managing emergencies and disasters. The survey goes on to state that many of these countries’ citizens have no other means of access to health care.

If this technology can be so beneficial for some of the poorest countries in the world, it isn’t hard to see how beneficial it can be for some of the richest countries in the world. And if users, like the diabetes and prediabetes patients being trialed with Sensei’s app, devote only a fraction of the time, passion and commitment to these kinds of health apps that others do to apps like Angry Birds, then they are sure to be an important resource for healthcare.

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