Partners HealthCare (Boston) has been awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the development of a novel 'Engagement Engine' to support the sustained use of health and activity trackers and engagement in physical activity, in order to improve health outcomes in the general population.

Personal health technologies are widely available and have proven to increase physical activity. Yet they are not broadly used, or users discontinue them after a short period. Helping consumers overcome barriers to using personal health technologies and successfully incorporate trackers in their day-to-day lives could help improve the health of a large segment of the population.

Researchers at Partners HealthCare will begin 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. 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 BMI (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.

Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.