Ubiqi Health: Harnessing Big Data for Engaged Patients

Harnessing big data for engaged patients

In the bright light of the congested foyer atrium at a hotel in Boston, I pulled together a pair of chairs to improvise a conversation area.  It was mid-afternoon and Jacqueline Thong was bursting with energy.  I thought to myself, “Whatever she has, I’d like to bottle that!”  Thong is a petite woman with a big vision and a desire to harness the power of big data. As Co-Founder and CEO of Ubiqi Health, she works to forge strategic alliances with other health industry organization and maximize the adoption and use of her company’s health applications.  I first had the pleasure of meeting Thong last fall at unNiched(micro) Health Marketing Innovation Series. At this breakfast and learn event, we attendees could see, hear and demo new health technology applications. Thong was among the presenters. I began following her on Twitter and discovered I’d missed a possible chance to connect with her in April during TEDMED.  How disappointing. Health2.0 provided a new opportunity to connect. My determination paid off. She was kind enough to sit down with me for a brief discussion on Ubiqi Health.
enBloom Media (EB): What phase were you with your company when we first met last fall at the event in NYC?
Jacqueline Thong (JT): We were just starting to ramp up our partnership development. We had closed our first partnership with a Big PhRMA company and hadn’t begun the work yet.
EM: What is Ubiqi Health?
JT: We help consumer-patients better manage and control chronic conditions (beginning with migraine headache) by providing easy to use mobile and web-based tools for tracking their health data and helping them interpret it in easy and simple ways. While our main audience is the consumer,  physicians and nurse practitioners are the secondary audience. What we’ve found with our users is the one’s who are most engaged are the one’s who are sharing that information that they’re recording through our app with their provider in the form of a report that we help them create. The report really has helped our users have more efficient and more engaged conversation with their healthcare providers.
EM: So what kind of growth have you and Ubiqi Health seen since last fall?
JT: Well, we’ve doubled our user base since then and we’re now up to 11,000 users today. We’ve also formed new partnerships with Johnston Diabetes Center and health care media company.
EM: What brought you to Health 2.0?
JT:  I though this was a great forum to meet other collaborators,  other start-ups who are innovating in the same general area. The Health2.0 forum is also just a really great place to get new ideas and get inspiration from what other people are doing in the healthcare innovation area.
EM: So, a little about your background.  Are you a software developer/programmer or software engineer?
JT: Actually no.  On my team, I’m the business person (earned an MBA from INSEAD).  I do have an IT/Information technology and clinical information background so my background does combine health and technology. For most of my career, I’ve been a project manager, basically implementing those systems for big PhRMA companies. I don’t consider myself a coder. I am a technologist and I think in terms of a product and how we can best interface with users and meet their needs but I mostly do the business thinking.
EM: So you do the strategy and the planning? that sort of role?
JT: Yep, partnership development.
EM:  How has Health 2.0 been helpful to you and the company?
JT: Well, its been great in facilitating all types of discussions with different types of potential partners. I participated in the Matchpoint where the Health 2.0 organization facilitated a meeting between Ubiqi Health and a potential partner in the EMR space.  We weren’t necessary seeking out partners in that area but it was interesting to see that an EMR provider was really seeking out relationships with companies like ours. I also participated in the Code-A-Thon over the weekend. It was a lot of fun! When our CIO couldn’t make it, I thought it would be a really great way to meet developers who are charged up about healthcare and I did. I formed a team with complete strangers, I hadn’t met before and we actually won a runner-up prize and got some prize money! Finally, UbiqiHealth and the Johnston Diabetes Center were nominated as a finalist (team) in the 100 Days Developer Challenge (also sponsored by Health 2.0). Unfortunately, we didn’t win but it’s been a great platform for us to have Health2.0 talk about some of the work we’ve been doing.
EM: So Health2.0 provides a lot of support to start-ups and you’ve been able to take advantage of some of that mentorship and those opportunities.
JT: Yes and you know the publicity and PR that you get out of it of course is gold.
 EM: Do you have any data or experience with how you pull in that person who is on the bench, thinking about being engaged; maybe they just got a diagnosis and their doctor says: if you don’t do such and such then these things are gonna happen?
JT:  This is certainly something we talk about a lot on our team. Moving forward with the future roadmaps for our product, we want to make sure we have people participate and using the Ubiqi Health tools without necessarily being active. Potential or new users may want to get their feet wet and see what other people are doing and what benefit they got out of it. Our power users are happy to talk about successes they’ve had. We are incorporating social media functions so people can share what their learnings were. By aggregating data so that it is unidentifiable, we can feed it back to the community in meaningful ways. For example, a big trigger of migraines is diet and newly diagnosed patients may not know that. So in this way, the website is becoming a content generator. Even though a user is not tracking, they are getting value through what others have done.  Since we’re in healthcare, the most rewarding thing is seeing we’re actually helping people get better.
EM: Thanks so much for sharing this with me.  It’s a pleasure to see you again and see how much your company has grown since the first time we met.
Harnessing big data for engaged patients

Screen capture for the episode tracking questions. Image source: http://ubiqihealth.com

harnessing bid data for the engaged patient

A sample log entry. Image source: http://ubiqihealth.com

I took a tour of Ubiqi Health by creating an account using both my MacBook and my iPad.  The application has a minimal, intuitive user interface.  This product is certainly designed for the engaged patient. Perhaps, they are already keeping their own Excel spreadsheet or even scribbling notes in a notepad real or virtual. With Ubiqi Health, you make an entry that includes the day and the time the migraine begins and ends, the pain intensity, how you treated it, what may have triggered it, and any additional notes you may choose to add. While you may not feel like doing this whilst in the midst of a migraine, recording this information as soon as possible afterwords can provide powerful insight by looking at patterns and trends.  The calendar helps you visualize just how many days a month you are suffering. Once you visit the doctor again, it is easy to answer the specific questions s/he asks because you’ve recorded it through the Ubiqi Health application. Listen to Thong speak a little more about Ubiqi Health and patient engagement.

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