DaiWare Inc.’s software will give clinicians a new tool via their phones.
In recent years, fitness trackers have become an increasingly popular way for users to keep track of their daily activity. According to its own published data, Fitbit’s user base grew to over 25 million last year. Now add to that number every user of every other fitness tracker on the market today, and you’ve multiplied by many.
With all those millions of users there’s a mountain of collected data that, according to DaiWare Inc. co-founder Marla Block Mendelson, isn’t necessarily being taken full advantage of.
“Patients were bringing in all this data from their Fitbits, and their clinicians would have to throw it all away,” explains Mendelson. “There was too much information, and they weren’t interested in using it because it wasn’t clinically validated.”
She points out how frustrating that can be for doctors because “it would be phenomenal to see what happens between visits.”
While fitness trackers like Fitbit and Xiaomi are useful for individuals trying to improve their daily habits, for a doctor, the signs and patterns that might contain useful information are buried under heaps of data points impossible to sort through.
In other words, imagine going to your doctor and saying, “Over the last week, I moved this much, my blood pressure did this, and I slept this much,” but not being able to organize those facts on a clear timeline.
DaiWare seeks to bridge that gap between biotech hardware and health care services. The company was incorporated in 2016 by co-founders Mendelson and Tom Woolf, whose children attended preschool together at Beth El Congregation in Baltimore. Woolf, a tenured professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University with a background in computer science, brought the idea to Mendelson, a CFA charter holder and alumnus of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.
Their app uses a machine-learning algorithm to sort through the collected data, looking for patterns that might help it recognize and parse what would be most useful to a doctor. In addition, information on everything from activity levels to sleep patterns can be interwoven with the patient’s medical history to create a more accurate and holistic way of looking at patient health.
Although the goal is to send more relevant information to medical professionals, Mendelson and Woolf understand that patients will need a more marketable incentive to use the software if it is to become maximally efficient.
“Patients will have access to some of the data, but for them, the software is more about engagement. We are looking at things like gamification,” says Mendelson.
As with other smartphone apps that encourage physical activity, users will be able to compare how much they have walked in a day, for example, and receive encouragement and digital badges for improving their habits.
Currently, the software is being used to look for patterns, which might point to high blood pressure and diabetes. It is undergoing multiple clinical trials while they seek FDA approval.
“Without FDA approval, [the software] can be used by doctors, but only as a recommendation, as opposed to lab results,” says Mendelson, pointing out that that may take several more years. Due to the nature of the software, however, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“The more trials we run, the more data we put in, the stronger the algorithm gets.”
And the stronger the algorithm gets, the better the app will be at telling medical professionals what they need to know to make you healthier.
For information, visit daiware.com.
Kyle Fierstien is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.