Partners HealthCare in Boston has received a $468,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop an “engagement engine” that will encourage the use of personal fitness and activity tracking technologies.

“As an organization that is taking risk on a large proportion of its patients and moving towards value-based reimbursement, better understanding preventative care is extremely important,” said Kamal Jethwani, M.D., senior director of connected health innovation at Partners HealthCare, and principal investigator on this project. “Our patients are also consumers, and this engagement tool will allow us to interact with them in a new way, helping prevent the onset of chronic disease by enabling them to adopt healthy lifestyles.”

Researchers at Partners will begin the project by developing and testing an algorithm for identifying, purchasing and using a physical activity tracker, and then establishing and sustaining a personalized physical activity plan.

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The engagement engine will leverage machine learning and other big data analytic tools to convert insights from users into targeted feedback. Once the engine is developed, a diverse, representative sampling of adults between the ages of 18 and 65, with body mass index in the overweight to mildly obese category (BMI= 25-35), will be recruited to participate in a study to validate it empirically.

The engagement engine will be available online through Wellocracy, which was created by Partners to educate and empower individuals to use activity trackers, wearable sensors and mobile apps to improve health and wellness.

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