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Fitbit Products Take Fitness to the Next Level

When I was at Best Buy yesterday, a display caught my eye. There were screens demonstrating the product, and from the check out area that I was at, I saw the sign that said, “FitBit.” I had a feeling it was something I would be interested in, so I looked it up right when I got home.

Fitbit offers several different products. I’ll start off by talking about the mobile app, since it’s free and something anyone with a smart phone can use.

The app is basically for tracking fitness and nutrition/food — so another great option for a food/exercise diary. However, it incorporates data from the Fitbit Ultra. This is cool because, using the 3D sensor, it captures data that you may not have entered yourself, so you have a more accurate view of fitness throughout the day, and sleep at night. I really like this, because sometimes it is hard to accurately input the amount of calories burned, or steps taken, into a fitness tracker, so this kind of takes the work out of it. But even if you don’t have any of the Fitbit devices, this app is still helpful. I love the look of it — the colors are vibrant and fun, and the graphics are easy to understand. Users can track their weight, food, exercise, and water, and see their progress and how far they have to go to reach a goal. Download it for iOS devices here and Android here.

On the Fitbit website, there are three devices that are available for purchase right now — the Zip wireless activity tracker, The One wireless activity and sleep tracker, and the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. Each of them has unique attributes and features to fit the needs of many different users.

First off, the Zip. This is the cheapest device, only costing 59.99, and probably the most simple. It’s small and comes in a variety of fun, bright colors. Below is a picture of the green model.




It can be used with the mobile apps, and tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. In my opinion, it’s just a hyped-up pedometer, though I’m guessing (and hoping) it is more accurate than some pedometers I’ve used in the past. The Zip can be easily synced with the computer or apps, and helps create a good visual for goals that are been set. It’s small and can clip on to just about any clothing discreetly. Users can also earn badges or challenge friends as well.

Next is “The One.” This device looks like a USB drive. It doesn’t look quite as cool as the Zip does, in my opinion, but it does more. It costs $99.95, and on the description page, it says this device is for those that want to “turn fitness into a lifestyle.” It does everything the Zip does, as well as tracks stairs climbed, but it also has a sleep tracker. It measures and analyzes sleep cycles and offers suggestions for better sleep. I guess it will even wake you up in the morning. It also can be synced to a computer or mobile device.



I think the thing that I like most about these devices is that it uses the user’ss personal stats (weight, height, etc.) to create an accurate depiction of calories burned. That is definitely not your every day pedometer!

Finally, Fitbit offers the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. I’m in the market for a new scale, and this one definitely tops my list. It’s super sleek, and comes in either white or black. At first glance, it looks like it just simply displays the users weight. It not only tracks weight, but BMI and body fat percentage. Like all other Fitbit products, the data can be synced to, and graphs can be viewed there. And up to eight users can be registered to the scale — the cool part about this? The scale automatically recognizes who is using it. My dad, who loves to try and figure out how much people weigh (much to my dismay…and everyone else’s!), always jokes that the scale in my parent’s house tracks how much people weigh…I guess if he got this scale, that might actually be true – yikes!

The Wi-Fi Smart Scale isn’t cheap — it’s 129.95. However, it offers a lot of really awesome features, and if you can afford it, I think this is definitely a scale to consider.

I think Fitbit is definitely a company to watch. They have some really neat products, and I only anticipate more cool things coming from them in the future.

To purchase any of the products mentioned, visit the Fitbit store here.

December 31, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

UK Company Developing a Biosensor Device to Detect Flu and RSV

‘Tis the season for the flu, colds, and other respiratory diseases. Not exactly something to put a person in the holiday spirit, right? Well, a company in the United Kingdom is currently working on some pretty cool technology, that supposedly will help detect these illnesses in their early stages — during the time when treatments are most affective.

OJ-Bio, the company that has been developing the new biosensor device, recently received government backing for the device. According to OJ-Bio, the device “is intended to provide rapid, simple and low-cost diagnoses of flu and respiratory conditions.”  Below is a picture of the device, hooked up to a smart phone:

Point of care diagnosis[2]

The device can be used just about anywhere — at home, work, school. The results are available almost immediately — which is much better than having to wait for lab results, which can sometimes take hours or even days. According to the article, OJ Bio has been working with the U.K.’s Health Protection Agency for the past few years on this project, and the device accurately detected respiratory illnesses even quicker than other methods.  Some of the viruses that were in the test protocol included Influenza A and B as well as Respiratory Synctvial Virus.

In the press release, chief executive of OJ-Bio said:

Flu viruses cause misery for millions of people each year and early diagnosis is vital. Drugs are only effective in the first few days after symptoms appear and current tests, which involve laboratory analysis of samples, simply aren’t fast enough.

I’ve mentioned before that my son had RSV when he was just two weeks old. During the experience, I came to appreciate the importance of diagnosing illnesses like that very quickly and early on. We were very lucky and caught it just when he started to get it, so he was able to receive treatment and it didn’t get as bad as it could have. However, not everyone is so lucky, and aren’t diagnosed with the flu or other respiratory illnesses until they get to the point where treatments aren’t super effective. In the winter, it is sometimes hard to go to the doctor, especially since there’s the risk of picking up other illnesses while there. Having a device like this could be so helpful in helping people know if their cold or stomachache is more than just something passing by. I’ve read a lot lately about people who have been hospitalized by the flu, and I wonder how many of those could have avoid hospitalization if something like this had been available.

I’m not sure if this will be available in the United States as well, but I sure hope it will be. Definitely another item I’d want to add to my home-health kit!

December 26, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Jubilee Health Community and NoMoreClipboard Combine Forces To Help Diabetes Patients

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20.8 million people in the United States are affected by diabetes. This amounts to around seven percent of the population, which is a fairly large percentage. Many of those with diabetes likely have no health insurance

Jubilee  Health Community and NoMoreClipboard PHR are working together to help uninsured manage diabetes, according to a recent press release. The objectives of this include:

  • Explore the use of a PHR by rural, uninsured patients with diabetes
  • Improve patient health outcomes by providing patients with a PHR to share and track daily glucose readings
  • Improve diabetes care management by sharing health information between a clinician and patients using a PHR.

28 diabetes patients of Jubilee Health Community were given a smartphone-enabled version of the NoMoreClipboard PHR about a year ago to assist them in managing their diabetes. Immediate feedback was given when glucose values were entered, and lab results were input within about 72 hours.

These patients and their use of the PHR were monitored over the course of a year, and that findings were interesting. Here are some of the stats that were listed in the press release:

  • 37.5 percent of the patients remained actively engaged and regularly entered blood glucose readings via NoMoreClipboard
  • Of those 37.5 percent of patients, 28.6 had improved A1C levels and reported feeling better
  • Those that did not actively use the PHR, 21.4 percent had no improvement or increased A1C levels
  • Of those that did not stay engaged, one of the patients whose A1C level increased suffered an MI.

Diabetes is linked to a host of other health problems, which include adult blindness, kidney failure, non-traumatic amputations, and heart disease and strokes. Obviously, there is a great need for some additional help for these patients, and this PHR seems like it could really do a lot of good. The sample size might not be the greatest to glean the most accurate results on the effectiveness of the PHR, but it does give some insight to indicate it would be worth trying. I think it’s great that some of those who used the PHR regularly did see improvement.

Jeff Donnell, president of NoMoreClipboard, offered some commentary concerning the value of electronic patient engagement:

This project reinforces the value of electronic patient engagement in helping underserved patients manage chronic conditions. Providers are often skeptical that populations including seniors and safety net patients will be able to cross the digital divide and use a PHR. Our experience with rural and urban underinsured patients make it clear that these individuals are looking for tools to help them take a more active role, and they will use those tools when they provide benefit.

In general, I feel like when people are accountable and regularly track information concerning their health (whether it be for diabetes, trying to lose weight, etc.) there will be an increase in their health and well-being. The problem is, it can be very hard to stay on track with systems like this –which is evidenced by the fact that over 60 percent of the people didn’t remain active at the end of the trial period. It raises the question, what can be done to convince people to keep track of their health on things like the NoMoreClipboard PHR?

December 20, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Phreesia Makes Going to the Doctor Easier

The other day, we had to visit the doctor after hours. Because of this, we went to the local “instacare.” However, as soon as we realized it wasn’t going to be so “insta,” with an hour and a half wait, my husband and I decided to drive about 10 minutes to another after-hours facility. We ended up at the wrong one, but decided to stay as soon as we discovered they took our insurance.

First off, I was immediately impressed with the office. The staff was extremely friendly and professional. Especially because at the first place we went, the receptionist was eating an egg roll as she tried to get our information. Secondly, I noticed right away that they had some sort of tablets sitting at the front desk, and I was really hoping I would get a chance to use one and check it out. None of the doctor’s my family usually go to have any type of technology like that (I think I’ve mentioned how my OB/GYN is about as ancient as they come,) so I was excited to see this here. As soon as the receptionist scanned my insurance card, she handed me one of the tablets and asked me to fill out the information on the tablet. I readily agreed and went back to my seat.

When I say down, my husband saw what I was holding and said, “I bet you love this. You can totally write a post about it,” so, I thought I would.

The tablets that the office used are called Phreesia, the patient check-in company. They are bright orange, and a series of questions are asked. The questions ranged everywhere from insurance ID numbers, symptoms, past medical history, and allergies. It includes automatic insurance verification, to reduce the instance of denied claims, and the patient can swipe their debit card on the machine and pay their deductible. Here are a few of there other features listed on the site:

  • Simplify your check-in with a selection of expertly-designed specialty-specific interviews
  • Automate the administration, scoring, and reporting of clinical scales before patients enter the exam room
  • Collect sensitive healthy information with proven technology
  • Obtain a legible list of medications and drug allergies
  • Obtain patient consent for managed care initiatives

Phreesia offers different varieties of the product for all kinds of specialties  so any practice could probably find use for it. It’s also secure, so patients and providers alike can be confident about inputting information.

After using the tablet, I was definitely converted. So much, that I was very tempted to switch my family over to this practice. One thing that I always hate doing is having to tell a receptionist all of my personal information, and sometimes the details of why I’m there. I would much rather have my privacy, and be able to provide as much or as little details as I wanted. I felt like I was able to be more thorough in the descriptions of past medical history, as well as about why I was coming in. Overall, I love that some practices are implementing this kind of system, and I hope to see it more often. When I worked at a therapy clinic, I always loved the little PDA’s that we handed out for patients to answer questions — something like Phreesia.

December 17, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

The Patient’s Guide Reveals How iPhone Dominates Mobile Health Research

Over a 2-year period, The Patient’s Guide compiled information concerning mobile engagement trends from over 12 million visitors. They were looking to see if there was a trend toward mobile computing for healthcare research versus traditional desktop computing, and how big it was. During this research, The Patient’s Guide discovered how the iPhone pretty much dominates in this arena. 

According to the research, these are the top 10 devices used for finding medical information:

1. iPhone

2. iPad

3. iPod

4. Sony Xperia

5. Samsung Galaxy


7. Motorola Dorid

8. Blackberry

9. HTC INcredible

10. T-Mobile MyTouch

I’m not surprised by these results at all. I mean, almost every health app I look at is available for the iPhone, many available for Android devices, and it’s really hit or miss for Blackberry or Windows’ devices. Not only did this study determine this top ten list, but also found the following interesting facts:

  • 94% increase in consumer medical searches using iPhone in 2012 when compared to 2011
  • An estimated 1.5 million searched for medical information using their iPhone in the last 12 months using Patient’s Guide websites alone
  • iPhone captures 41% of total mobile medical traffic
  • 20% male/80% female searching for medical information online
  • 1 in 3 cell phone owners (31%) have used their phone to look for health information

information submitted by Brittney Roberts, Director of Marketing Communications at The Patient’s Guide

I found a lot of these findings fascinating, particularly that 80 percent of those searching for medical information online are females. It makes sense to me, at least from what I’ve been exposed to. I look at my husband and I. I’m always online, researching different ailments that I’m sure one of us has, and then there’s my husband, who I doubt has ever even been to WebMD. Perhaps women tend to worry more, or even just feel more of an obligation to search out medical information? Who knows. Either way, it’s an interesting finding.

And again, it’s amazing just how many people are using the iPhone. Personally, I don’t like the iPhone, but obviously, it’s very popular, especially among people wanting health information. I wonder why that is — any suggestions?

And finally, it’s crazy that a 1/3 of cell phone users have used their phone to look up health information. I’m not sure if that’s referring to those with smart phones, or just all cell phone users in general, but still, crazy. Though, part of me is surprised it isn’t more.

The news release about this suggests that there are number of different factors influencing these trends, such as “government regulations and insurance reimbursements, as well as the evolution of mobile computing devices such as the new iPad mini.” I definitely feel like this numbers are only going to continue to grow. mHealth just makes things so much more convinient in my opinion (for the most part, at least.)

The Patient’s Guide also created a neat infographic concerning the data found in their study:

To learn more about the study conducted by The Patient’s Guide, follow this link to the infographic/news release.

December 12, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

MyCrisisRecords Offers Peace of Mind In Emergency Situations

It’s always nice to get feedback from readers, especially when they alert me to other apps. With some of my recent lists, I can’t always post all the great apps pertaining to a particular topic. While I try to do a thorough job researching, I obviously have room for error just because of the vast number of apps out there. So I definitely encourage readers and app creators to let us know if you have a great app that I should talk about. On that note, the CEO and founder of My Crisis Record contacted us about his service, and I thought it would be good to talk about. I focus a lot on mHealth apps around here, and this is an alternative to having all your medical information stored in an app.

MyCrisisRecords offers a place to store medical information safely and remotely and access them in a variety of ways, depending on the membership plan they choose. There are a few different plans, ranging from free to 14.99 a year. The free membership includes access to their Personal Health Care Record (PHRC) online, while the 14.99 plan has a lot more options. You can register here and view all the details of each plan, but here are a few features that can be used.

  • MY Crisis Card: This is a card that you put in your wallet that has a personalized QR code on it. A medical professional and emergency responder can take the card, scan the code, and all your medical information will be displayed on their smartphone or tablet.
  • MyShareFile: This allows the user to upload diagnostic files to their PHCR, so they can be easily shared and accessed by medical professionals.
  • My Crisis Capsule: A flash-drive like device that contains all your medical information (that you have submitted to your profile) pops up as soon as it is
  • Mobile: The ability to access your PHRC mobiley

After I registered, I went to see what kind of information you could enter. And I wasn’t disappointed. They sure didn’t seem to leave anything out. This could definitely be very helpful in case of an emergency. I like how there are different plans available, just according to whatever your needs are, and even the most expensive plan isn’t that bad. The information is stored securely and can only be accessed on the web with a password.

I did find the website to be a bit confusing. At this point, I’m not entirely sure if everyone gets the My Crisis Capusle, regardless of the plan they sign up for, or if it is only included in the highest plan. I also found it hard to find the information I was looking for at times (like the prices for plans), and it was a little information heavy in some places.

Overall, this program should definitely be one that anyone wanting to be a little more prepared should look into. It’s a nice alternative to storing the information on a mobile app, or on paper, though it can be accessed both those ways (a copy of the PHRC can be printed off if desired.)

December 10, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Mobile Health Infographic

I’ve never met an Infographic I didn’t like to peruse. So, I was of course interested to see the data they’d collected to create the following mobile health infographic. Definitely illustrates the trends we knew that mobile health was the future and there’s a lot of opportunity to do good with mobile health.

December 7, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Five Essential Apps for Medical Emergencies

I’ve come to learn that you must always expect the unexpected. It’s easy to see natural disasters happen to people across the world, or hear about tragic accidents, and think, “Well, that would never happen to me!” Believe me, I think that all the time. Unfortunately, emergency situations inevitably happen to everyone. And when those situations come up, it’s better to be safe, than sorry. There’s a lot of apps out there that have been designed to make emergencies a little more bearable, and some are specifically for health-related emergencies. Here’s five apps I think everyone should have on their smart phone — just in case.

1) Alert.MDThis app was created to make sure medical professionals can access information quickly and efficiently during an emergency situation, and to ensure family members are notified as well. Basically, after you register for a free account, you are giving a ID number that you superimpose onto the screen saver or background of your mobile device (the function to do this is in the app.) In an emergency, a medical provider can search the number on Alert.MD and immediately have access to the individual’s emergency contact info, allergies, medications, and known medical conditions. One of the reviews I read said, “I don’t know if I would be here right now if I had not downloaded it!” And others expressed similar sentiments.

Available for free iOS devices; register account for free at Alert.MD

2) First Aid by American Red CrossIt’s not hard to find a first aid app — there’s tons of them. However, not all are created equally, and I think this one created by the American Red Cross is one of the best. It features step-by-step guides for a variety of different first aid scenarios and the ability to call 911 from the app. Not only does it provide information in emergency situations, but it has education for people wanting to learn first aid, in the form of quizzes and videos. The information can be accessed without a wireless internet connection. It is a very clean, user-friendly app, that I think just about anyone could benefit from having. Just as a side note, the American Red Cross also has recently released apps that deal with natural disasters that seem to be pretty handy, all of which can be accessed from the link above.

Available for free on both Android and iOS devices.

3) iTriage Health: The description for this app says it answers two questions — “what medical condition could I have,” and “where should I go for treatment.” It has a doctor search, to help you find a doctor or facility that can best treat your symptoms, as well as find hte nearest ER, urgent care, mental health clinic, and more. Average wait times for local emergency rooms are also available. The database helps users to determine whether or not they need to go to the ER, and what course of action they should take. There are a whole bunch of other features which make this kind of an all-in-one emergency app — I meant, it has almost 5 stars and over 50,000 reviews, it must be doing something right!

Available for free on both Android and iOS devices

4) smart-ICE4FamilyThis is an interesting twist on the typical emergency information card. The owner of the phone can pre-record a message that plays off information for anyone that presses it. It has places to enter medical information, difficulties, and even “expressed wishes.” There is room for up to 8 people in the app, so a parent (or caregiver) can have all the information they need concerning the health of those in their family or that they care for. One interesting feature is the alert function. When it is pressed, emergency services are called, and a siren goes off. This could be helpful if someone is home alone and has either fallen, had a heart attack, or feel they can’t get to a place that EMTs could find them easily. It also has a “my location” button, which makes it easy to give information to a dispatcher, which would be helpful if someone is an an unfamiliar place.

Available for iOS devices for 2.99.

5) !Emergency!: What happens if you are visiting another country, and an emergency happens? Not every country uses 911 like America, and this app helps solve that problem. It’s simple enough, but basically just provides the emergency contact numbers for countries around the world, as well as helps the user locate hospitals and emergency rooms. It automatically detects which country the user is in, and suggests the correct phone number to call. Obviously, not everyone is going to get a use out of this, but for those that travel, it’s almost a necessity.

Available for iOS devices for .99

December 6, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

“Smart Socks” Helps Parents Sleep Easier

Here’s another gadget to add to my ever-growing, paranoid (or more, perhaps, cautious) parent list. I’ve read about this at three separate sources today, so I figure it’s probably worth mentioning here.

Students at Brigham Young University have created what they call The Owlet baby monitor. This device is supposed to help combat SIDS, which is the leading cause of death for infants in the United States. It is a sock-like monitor that is placed on a baby’s foot while they sleep, and uses pulse oximetry to indicate if a child stops breathing, has low-levels of blood-oxygen, or irregular vital signs. The creators hope that it will help alert parents to potentially fatal and harmful situations. Here is a picture of the sock monitor, as well as the app.

The team who created it had personal reasons for wanting to create a monitor like this. In an interview with, co-founder of Owlet, Kurt Workman said that he partly came up with the idea because his wife was a near-SIDS victim as an infant, and a cousin had passed away from SIDs as well. Another one of the team members, Jacob Colvin, is a father and understands how parents worry about their child breathing. The tagline for Owlet is “up all night, so you don’t have to be.” I definitely think that statement has some truth to it.

Here is a video, explaining a bit more about the product and it’s development, as posted on a news release on Brigham Young University’s news website:

There are some other monitors out there to help monitor an infant’s breathing, but I think this one is definitely different. I love that it shows the blood-oxygen level. I think I’ve mentioned before that my son was in the hospital when he was a few weeks old with RSV. A few days before his admittance, he had his two-week appointment. His levels were pretty low (around 85), and the nurses just said the machine wasn’t working. However, that wasn’t true — his levels truly were too low, and he went a few days without getting adequate oxygen. While the doctors and nurses should have acted on this, rather than dismissing it as a fluke, I wish we could have had this monitor then, so we could have seen his oxygen was low earlier on. I’m grateful that nothing happened, but it would have been nice to have something to alert us that something really was amiss with our son.

I posted this article to Facebook, and a friend immediately responded, stating how much she wanted it. When her daughter was first born, she had some episodes where she quit breathing. Luckily, my friend was always around, but it has made her very nervous to let her daughter sleep by herself. This monitor would truly give many mothers (and fathers) peace of mind. Parents of babies don’t get a lot of sleep to begin with — not feeling the need to wake up every few hours to ensure that their child is breathing might give everyone a little more sleep (I’ll be the first to admit that not only have I woken up to check on my son, but I’ve woken him up in the process, when it’s so dark, I’m half asleep, and I can’t tell if he’s asleep.)

The Owlet won first place in the Student Innovator of the Year competition that was sponsored by the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology and the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. They won $6,000 to help with the improvement of their device, and got valuable feedback from judges. While the Owlet won’t be on the market for awhile, its creators are motivated to get it into the mainstream market, and approved by the FDA. I like how Jacob Colvin described some of his motivation in this device:

If we can hear just one mother say that we made a difference, it would all be worth it. That makes all the difference in the world.

December 3, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.