- Born out of a collaboration between the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hollywood, Healthimation’s app version of a successful Diabetes Prevention Program – Why WAIT (Weight Achievement and Intensive Training) demonstrates the potential of gamification for healthy behavior change.
- The Why WAIT app uses Hollywood animation and an avatar named Lena to engage users in a uniquely game-like process.
- In addition to offering personal diet and exercise recommendations, progress-tracking, and peer support, the app also syncs with wearable tech (FitBit or Apple Watch) for additional data input.
Healthimation is new company that applies Hollywood animation and gaming industry expertise to healthcare programs. Its first project is an app version, for iOS and Android, of the Joslin Diabetes Center’s successful DPP(Diabetes Prevention Program), Why WAIT (Weight Achievement and Intensive Training). Healthimation is a collaboration between diabetes specialists from Joslin and former executives from Warner Bros. and the nutrition app NuPlanit. Their tagline is, “Movie magic meets hard science.” In the app, also called Why WAIT, an avatar named Lena guides participants through a customized DPP consisting of nutrition and exercise coaching, presented with game-like interactions and Pixar-esque animation. The Why WAIT app offers personal recommendations for exercise and diet, progress tracking for weekly goals, and will soon allow users to order supplies like meal replacements, groceries, and prepared dinner meals. In addition, the program promotes community-based peer support. The app also syncs with wearables (e.g., FitBit or Apple Watch) for additional data input. Healthimation is designed to leverage machine-learning; the app will get smarter as more people use it. The company is currently working to obtain CDC recognition although, as it stands, CMS will not reimburse for virtual DPPs, making affordability a key consideration.
Why It Stands Out
While Healthimation is still in its early days, this unique collaboration of leaders from health and entertainment is worth noting. Such a combination is a fascinating attempt to bridge the gap between theory and practice that so often challenges diabetes prevention efforts. While DPPs have shown that meaningful prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes can be achieved through lifestyle changes, there is still meaningful work to be done on finding out how to implement interventions in ways that are accessible, affordable, and that will consistently keep participants engaged. The use of Hollywood animation and game-like interaction is an exciting, creative strategy to do exactly that, and it represents the sort of collaborative innovation that we hope to see more of in the future.
- “Healthimation,” Healthimation, 2016, http://healthimation.com/#home.
- Mack, “HealthyMation Offers Joslin’s Diabetes Prevention Program with a Gameified Twist,” MobiHealth News, December 8, 2016, http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/healthymation-offers-joslins-diabetes-prevention-program-gameified-twist.
- Mack, “HealthyMation Offers Joslin’s Diabetes Prevention Program with a Gameified Twist.”