New Combination of Gaming Technology, Behavioral Economics, and
Personal Coaching Is Key to Reversing the Epidemic of Chronic
Illness and Overcoming Health Disparities Among Individuals with Strong
Genetic or Cultural Risk Factors
PALO ALTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#SidekickHealth–The newest and most powerful weapon to fight chronic illness may be a
unique combination of behavioral economics, the latest gaming
technology, artificial intelligence, and personal coaching.
a gamified health behavior change service that predicts, manages and
prevents chronic and lifestyle-related conditions, today announced
results of improved treatment compliance and reduction of diabetes from
deployments with several at-risk populations.
When comparing those using the SidekickHealth game to those who did not,
SidekickHealth users were up to three times more likely to reach their
five percent weight loss goals in 16 weeks. Furthermore, there was up to
30 percent less dropout rate in the SidekickHealth program than the
standard care group.
“We are seeing that a program like SidekickHealth combined with personal
coaching is the key to motivating people to make significant changes in
their behavior, even those groups who have been challenged by genetic
pre-disposition, social or economic disparities,” said co-founder and
CEO Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, M.D, M.P.H. “Our brains don’t always work to
make logical choices. So we developed SidekickHealth to activate the
emotional triggers as well as the logic of decision-making. It’s a new
approach that is getting results far beyond those achieved with coaching
alone. While our initial focus has been in the area of diabetes
prevention, the same principles apply to improving the management of
chronic illnesses that are lifestyle related, like obesity and
Over the past year, SidekickHealth has been successfully deployed to
improve outcomes for in-person, community-based diabetes prevention
programs across the U.S., including those serving vulnerable populations
who face an increased risk such as Hispanic, Native American and
Medicare-age individuals. The use of images, games and Smartphones
overcomes the barriers to change otherwise attributed to social
disparities and cultural differences.
“We collaborated with SidekickHealth because it makes our program
scalable, allowing us to provide more diabetes prevention programs to
those in need,” said Marlayna Bollinger, Founder and Executive Director
of the Skinny Gene Project, a San Diego-based non-profit organization
with a Diabetes Prevention Program that has been recognized by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent or delay
type 2 diabetes. “With SidekickHealth, we can maintain the high-touch
relationships that are especially important to low-income participants.
We can modify the program to make it culturally relevant and ensure
information is not just received; it’s understood. In groups that are at
high risk for diabetes, like Hispanics and Native Americans,
SidekickHealth has been especially effective in helping people lower
their risk for diabetes.”
Based on the latest brain research and the newest gamification
technology, and developed and researched in collaboration with
professionals from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, SidekickHealth is an easy-to-deploy digital service for
in-person behavior modification programs. SidekickHealth is accessed via
website, tablet or Smartphone to educate, motivate, measure and manage
behavior. Artificial intelligence and evidence-based guidelines, such as
those from the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, combine to
lead the user into making healthier choices that reduce risk factors. As
a result, healthcare providers can better compete in the emerging
value-based reimbursement landscape.
Developed by physicians who believed there had to be a better way to
help patients get healthier than brief office visits, SidekickHealth is
already in use with several CDC certified providers of the National
Diabetes Prevention Program.
On average, participants have six to eight interactions with proven
behavior modification activities, per day, seven days a week. Examples
of motivating behavior change are commitment contracts such as skipping
soda for a period of time or increasing vegetable consumption. In
addition to diet and exercise, SidekickHealth also recognizes the role
of stress management in behavior change, and includes modules to promote
mindfulness and relaxation.
SidekickHealth was founded by two practicing physicians, Tryggvi “Thor”
Thorgeirsson, M.D., M.P.H. and Saemundur “Sam” Oddsson, M.D., to predict
and prevent lifestyle-related diseases. Recognizing that traditional
methods of counseling for lifestyle change were not effective enough to
bring about the massive shift that is needed to reverse the global
epidemic of chronic illness, these two founders brought together a team
of physicians, psychologists, public health scientists, biomedical
engineers, and game developers and drew on the latest research from
leading academic and medical institutions in the U.S. and Europe. The
result is SidekickHealth, a highly engaging, gamified service and app
featuring programs for diet, physical activity and stress management.
The platform is designed to reach those who are in greatest need of
lifestyle change, including the 50 percent of adults who have low health
literacy, and people with low motivation for lifestyle change.
SidekickHealth also helps diabetes prevention programs and chronic
disease management programs lower operational costs, improve outcomes,
and increase value-based reimbursements.
Scott Public Relations
Lacey Trejo, 818-517-7143