I remember seeing the name "Ginger.io" at the Stanford Medicine X conference last September, but never really got a chance to find out what (or who?) it was. I made a mental note to Google it later, but never did... which meant I was really glad to see an email from them a couple of weeks back, explaining what they're all about. I think what they're working on is a really cool concept and could help a lot of people (and requires minimal effort from the user to gain the benefits), so I wanted to help spread the word.
[Kim]: Can you tell us a little about what Ginger.io is, and how it got started?
[Peter of Ginger.io]: Sure, Ginger.io is a small startup on a big mission to change how people living with chronic conditions connect through health information — using just an iPhone or Android phone. Our application uses the sensors in your smartphone to map the relationship between your behavior and your health — and turn it into insights.
Ginger.io is based on research that came out of MIT’s Media Lab, where Anmol, our co-founder, was pursuing a PhD in computer science with a focus in modeling human behavior patterns. While at MIT Anmol met Karan, our other co-founder and an MBA with a deep knowledge of the health care system, and together they set out to build a check engine light for human health.
How does the whole thing work, and how much information do you have to share with the Ginger.io app?
So what type of data do we collect? The first type is active data - this data is short surveys that our application will ask you to answer periodically. They are easy to fill out and ask general questions around your mood, exercise behavior, etc. The second type of data we collect is passive data through sensors in your smartphone. Passive data is general patterns around your calling, texting, and movement behavior. Our system does not collect any specifics (i.e. who you are talking to, what you said, where you went). All we gather is general patterns like “how many calls did you make yesterday” and “how far did you travel”. All of your data is fully HIPAA compliant and treated just like a medical record at the doctor’s office.
Sounds legit. So why do you think this will be helpful for people living with diabetes? What value will patients get out of using the app?
- Personal insights into their health patterns — right away
- Improved connection to their care team (after the first couple of months you can set up alerts to be delivered to your care team when something seems out of place)
- Satisfaction that they’re contributing to science to benefit the diabetes community