App collects health data with social media _ daily trojan


Medable and the Center for Body Computing have created Biogram 2, a program that is helping researchers study health on a global scale. The program allows users to share photos and post their heart rate through Apple’s ResearchKit, which will allow USC researchers to examine anonymous heart rates and understand health all over the world.

The program was announced on Oct. 9 at the USC Body Computing Conference.

Biogram’s interface is similar to Instagram,

but instead of posting photos, users are asked to include their heart rate.

Leslie Saxon, cardiologist at the Keck School of Medicine and executive director for USC Center for Body Computing, said that Biogram 2 is one of the ways in which we can collect biometric data on a large scale and sense if users will become sick.

“One of the ways we can start to make fundamental breakthroughs in healthcare is by collecting biometric data in large so we can really understand major public health issues and events,” Saxon said. “We can also help people predict when they are going to get sick.”

Biogram 2 was created through a partnership between Medable and USC Center for Body Computing. Medable provided a compliant platform for the app that integrates Biogram 2 with Apple Health and ResearchKit.

Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Medable chief scientific officer, sees the importance in making healthcare a natural experience.

“The goal is to utilize something that people are already doing in posting photos, and to capture them in the moment so it is a natural non-additional experience,” Oakley-Girvan said. “Part of changing health is getting an active buy-in through an emotional connection.”

Saxon is captivated by the research that she is doing on large-scale healthcare and excited because of the connection she will have with the community.

“I am fascinated by young people contributing to biometrics because it is an interesting and cool aesthetic and emotional content,” she said. “It’s basically me observing my kids and friends — I think this is the future.”

Beyond publishing an initial study which aims to understand the health of a global population, Saxon hopes to use this biometric data to help people educate themselves about their own health and draw correlation between photo sharing and heart rate.

“It will be a fascinating way to connect with the community and do cutting-edge research,” Saxon said. “I’m interested in how heart rate reflects how people feel about sharing and how others respond [by liking posts].”

Oakley-Girvan is especially interested in how data analytics will shape the future of healthcare, as correlations can help give people insight into their own health and empower them.

“One of the eventual goals is to arm people with scientific information to help their own health,” Oakley-Girvan said. “This empowerment allows individuals to make better health choices.”

If patients want to lose weight, they could use data to see what activities constitute weight loss and weight gain and to make informed choices and change their lifestyle. That is one of the future goals of this study, explained Oakley-Girvan, while the heart rate data is more of an immediate goal.

“It’s more about the person sharing their photo with the heart rate,” she said. “They are also providing information on satisfaction with personal relationships and how many people share it.”

Using social media to study biometric data is a breakthrough research method. It allows researchers to use the power of social media to the benefit of society.

“[Biogram 2] is the first one out there,” Oakley-Girvan said. “Social media is a pervasive element in our lives, and it’s something that we do naturally. We are harnessing social media to improve people’s health.”

Medable, the platform that Biogram 2 uses, is also a revolution in application development. It uses a full stack of development pieces to reduce development time and needs to fulfill its mission to provide medical apps which improve health.

“Our primary goal is to facilitate medical grade apps to improve health,” Oakley-Girvan said. “We provide a full stack of development pieces — data, back end, analytics and app functionality.”

Biogram 2 is now available on the App Store. It requires that you sign up with your name and email and answer a basic survey that helps with the analysis of coded health data. Those enrolled in the study must post a photo and heart rate data point at least once a day and participate in surveys at the beginning and end of the study.

Saxon urged USC students to take part in the study to advance the concept of social media and biometric health data.

“I hope Trojans get behind it and advance the science and concept of how powerful the social community can be,” Saxon said.