Health 2.0 Recap: Online Brain Health Tools & Healthy Gaming

By | October 12, 2012

The Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco earlier this week pointed to the future of what health care can become in many aspects: online, personalized, and real time.

There are a number of new online brain health tools that launched this year at the conference, with many more on the way soon. Some of these health technology firms bill themselves as online mental health platforms, and others as “social health gaming” tools, but they really serve the same purpose: promoting and maintaining a healthy, resilient brain.

Here’s a rundown on several of these online brain health companies:

SuperBetter has a refreshingly non-clinical take on ways to recover from a health crisis, or reach personal health goals. Created by an expert game designer who suffered a severe concussion (and then struggled through recovery), SuperBetter provides a path to reach health goals through achievable, incremental steps with help from the game and allies (friends & family) that you enlist.

Kairos Labs takes social health gaming to larger multi-player groups with the goal of achieving lasting, sustainable behavior change. Called Habitual, this online health tool draws on psychology research and behavior change theory to promote behavior change on a large scale – think how this could positively affect obesity rates and food choices, as an example.

In response to an overwhelming need to treat injured military service members who have suffered brain trauma, the Veterans Administration created PTSD Coach, a mobile brain heath application available on Android and Apple devices. Kudos to the dedicated VA staff that pulled this simple but useful tool together.

AbilTo and Empower Interactive are moving the traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach of one-to-one psychotherapy office visits to the web — with online video sessions, user guided online therapy education modules, and virtual therapist support teams. So who will pay for these new tools? In the future, probably your employer or health plan. Possible roadblocks for consumers: how “real” will online therapy feel, and how much personal online therapy details will be made available to employers and health plan sponsors.

Next week we’ll detail some trends with wearable & home based health sensors that could have positive implications for cognitive health, especially for older adults.