Walgreens Balance Rewards used in study of real-world health tracking behaviors

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday announced findings from a collaborative study with the Scripps Translational Science Institute suggesting that automated health tracking can significantly improve long-term health engagement.

“This is the first chapter of a remarkable collaboration with Walgreens, enabling us to understand real world connectivity with mobile device health applications, along with behavior and outcome patterns, in an exceptionally large and diverse cohort,” stated Eric Topol, director, STSI.

“Digital technology that enables easy data tracking of healthy behaviors, combined with incentives, and trusted professional support, provide additional motivation for our customers to more easily manage their health,” said Harry Leider, chief medical officer, Walgreens. “We’re especially encouraged by the results of this study. In the two years since it was initiated, we’ve seen a shift from the majority of members in the program tracking their activities manually, to most now tracking them automatically. We’re pleased to continue our relationship with Scripps to advance our work in a way that results in a positive impact on behaviors and outcomes.”

The study examined utilization patterns of participants in Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices, a self-monitoring program that allows members to track health activities and receive incentives for continued tracking and healthy behaviors. It explored the impact of manual versus automatic data entries through a supported device or via apps, the study results were recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers examined activity tracking data – including exercise, weight, sleep, blood pressure, blood glucose data recorded, tobacco use and oxygen saturation – from more than 450,000 Balance Rewards members in 2014. After identifying users with sufficient follow-up data, the study explored trends in participation over time. The results demonstrated that 77% of users manually recorded their activities and participated in the program for an average of five weeks. However, users who entered activities automatically using the Balance Rewards supported devices or apps remained engaged four times longer and averaged 20 weeks of participation.

This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through a grant, and a grant from the Qualcomm Foundation.


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