Technology is advancing health care and fitness faster than ever, with apps and devices that let you do everything from tracking your medication to monitoring the number of calories you burn while jogging. There are more than 17,000 mHealth applications in the major app stores today and projections call for more than 500 million mHealth app users worldwide by 2015. But much of that useful data is locked away in individual programs, with no way to digitally share information between apps or between you and your doctor. The AT&T Developer Center ForHealth is designed to tear down those walls. As part of AT&T's developer enablement program, Developer Center enables developers to rapidly build, launch and scale healthcare applications that can share data across many verticals such as wellness, healthcare enterprises, patients, care givers and clinical professionals, in a highly-secure manner.
How did the Idea Hatch?
The AT&T ForHealth team held an all-day workshop with many interested parties within AT&T. It was clear that AT&T needed to come up with a solution, but it was not clear what that would look like. The AT&T Foundry team led a research project where they talked to insurance companies, device manufacturers, developers, hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other members of the healthcare ecosystem to get an understanding of what the space looked like and where AT&T could make the most impact. It became clear that the healthcare industry was trapped in silos and that AT&T could help build a platform that would cut across those silos to add value to healthcare applications. The original plan was to hire an independent company to develop applications on this platform and realize the benefit. However, Foundry research showed that we would be adding more value to the system if we opened up the platform to third party companies and developers.
About the Project
Developer Center ForHealth provides mobility infrastructure and tools that scale to support entrepreneurial developers, small independent software vendors and large healthcare enterprises. The ABS team brought the concept for this project to the developers at the AT&T Foundry innovation center in Palo Alto back in October 2010. And earlier this year, we launched a beta version of the platform for third-party developers.
There are currently lots of devices active on the ForHealth platform. For example, the Fitbit tracker shows your activity stats, helps track your calories and monitors other health measures so you know how close you are to your goals. The Withings Wi-Fi weight scale graphs your weight, BMI, and other measures so you can access the data from your smartphone or web browser, while a blood pressure monitor syncs with your iOS device. The Zeo brainwave headband is a sleep tracker that helps you track your sleep cycles and analyze the data on your phone or browser. With tools from the AT&T Developer Center, developers can build applications that utilize data from any of these devices and more, enabling an infinite number of possibilities for developers.
About the Researchers
Ari Lerner is a Technical Innovation Lead at the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto. He writes behavior-driven code and leads innovative projects both at work and at home. From his experience on the ground and vision from above, he recognizes problems, prototypes solutions and implements technology to address them. He has knowledge from low-level hardware up through the application space and attacks any interesting problem he faces. He has been working with AT&T for 3 years and contributes heavily to open-source software. He has been working in technology for 20+ years. He has spent more than 10 years on stage improvising all over the country.
Danika Patrick is an Innovation Lead in the AT&T Foundry; Palo Alto. She brings her experience doing user-centered research and design strategy to create new products and services that delight customers. As one of the first hires in the Foundry, she has been instrumental in shaping the culture and processes of the Foundry to ensure AT&T is meeting its goal of innovation for human progress. She is also a member of the Tech Council; an advisory committee to AT&T Mobility's Chief Technology Office which works on projects in strategic areas across the business.