Can a mobile app really help individuals with chronic heart risk to change behavior and lower blood pressure?
The next wave in mHealth: help individuals with chronic health conditions get healthier
It’s the age of health and fitness apps, with new apps appearing almost weekly. Anyone can easily monitor their diet, sleep cycles or activity. But do they make a difference? Research shows that depends on who you are. If you already doing the work to stay healthy, then current generation mHealth apps can give you just the push you need to get healthier.If you’re one of the 70,000 million Americans with chronic heart risk and high blood pressure, you need to do more than just monitor wellness data — you need to understand your condition to create behavior change.That’s the challenge we set out to tackle with Hello Heart. Rather than helping healthy people get healthier, we support unhealthy people as they work to become healthier. So how are we doing?We launched Hello Heart in April 2015 and in just 5 months have had over 50,000 downloads. We analyzed the usage data from a random sample of 4000 users who recorded two or more blood pressure readings. After 6 weeks of using the app, 1 in 4 users reduced their average weekly blood pressure reading by 10 pts or more. The average drop was 24 pts. This effect remained stable even for individuals using the app for as long as 12 weeks and counting.
What is Hello Heart?
The Hello Heart app for iPhone, Apple Watch and Android combines a proven behavioral framework, established clinical research and seamless mobile experience to create the first mobile therapeutics solution for increasing engagement related to heart risk. Through the app, individuals are motivated to track and understand their heart health.
How does it work?
Hello Heart takes a unique approach to health management. Instead of trying to compel people with chronic health conditions to do the things they hate doing or have been discouraged by in the past (i.e. big changes to lifestyle or diet), we motivate and reward them to care about themselves and track and understand their condition. Self-monitoring with clinical supervision has already been shown to help individuals make incremental, meaningful improvements in their health which can lead to lower blood pressure. We have significantly amplified these effects using scalable, mobile technology that is contextually relevant and able to increase long-term engagement, top-of-mind awareness and develop intrinsic motivators that sustain long-term behavioral change. In some users, this manifests as increased self-care (e.g. diet, exercise, stress reduction, drug adherence). In others, it helps them stay on top of their condition to seek medical treatment before they experience a serious cardiac event.Understanding what motivates us is the only way we are going to be able to sustainably change our bodies.
More engagement means better health
Our primary focus with Hello Heart has been on how to create sustained engagement. 70 percent of users who completed the first month using the app, developed a habit and continue to use the app four months later. Hello Heart for Apple Watch has been an important addition to the user experience. In an earlier study, we discovered that the number of users who tracked their blood pressure readings with an Apple Watch was 3.6 times more than other users after 8 weeks. The users who were more engaged saw better sustained results than ones who were less engaged.
For the 1 in 3 Americans with high blood pressure who need to make health changes, Hello Heart has proven to be effective at engaging users in real-time to track and measure their health. These users experienced improved numbers and a happier, healthier life!Hello Heart app for iPhone, Apple Watch and Android is available as a FREE download (iOS ,Android). An enhanced version for Employers Wellness Programs and Health Plans is currently enrolling interested participants in pilot programs.
About High Blood Pressure and Heart Risk
High blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension) is a prevalent chronic condition that may result in end organ damage and increasing risk of neurovascular and cardiovascular events if uncontrolled over time. Heart disease is the leading causes of death in the U.S. with over 600,000 Americans dying just last year. But with proper awareness and management it is almost completely preventable. Lower blood pressure is recommended by the AMA and is inversely correlated with cardiovascular complications. Prior studies have shown that reducing 10 pts. in blood pressure can have many positive effects on your health and can result in a 50% decrease in your chances of getting a heart attack.