Mango Insight of the Week

With the start of the new year we’re going to begin sharing some interesting information about the Mango Health community. Each week we’ll release a stat or piece of data that provides unique insight into how people are interacting with medications and supplements, and how they’re feeling as they do it. These insights will come from anonymous, aggregate data from across our user base. We’ll be tweeting these insights every Thursday, so follow us on Twitter to stay up on our latest:

Separating the Best Apps from the Rest

“There’s an app for that”? These days, “There are ten apps for that” sounds more accurate because there’s a dizzying selection of apps available. In the health and medical space the sheer number of apps is becoming a problem—it’s hard for people to determine which apps are safe, helpful, and easy to use. We feel that it’s important for experts to separate the best from the rest, so we were happy to learn that U.S. insurance leader Cigna has done just that. Last week Cigna launched a curated app store, and Mango Health was chosen, along with HealthTap, as one of just two medical apps in the program. Apps selected to participate were run through a detailed review process that included checks of privacy and security standards, quality of content, good use of behavioral science, and underlying technology. It’s a great initiative and we’re excited to be included! You can visit the Cigna Go You marketplace at https://goyou.mwellth.com/.

How Are You Feeling?

We’re super-excited about the newest version of the app (now in the App Store) because it contains a cool new feature we call “How Are You Feeling.” One of the things we’ve heard from many of you over the past months is that you want an easy way to record your symptoms and overall well-being on a day-to-day basis.

So now you’ll notice that the top right-hand corner of your reminder screen contains an emoticon with a plus sign. Tap on it and the app asks “How are you feeling?” and offers five options, ranging from Awesome to Sick. Just tap on the emoticon that best describes how you feel at that moment, and it will be saved to your History with a timestamp. That screen also has a space to write notes, so you can detail specific symptoms if you choose. Alternately, you can record how you’re feeling any time of day (and multiple times of day) by going into the History section and tapping on the Add Note icon you’ll now find there.

We believe that using the “How Are You Feeling” feature will be super-useful, because tracking your symptoms over the course of weeks and months can help you understand whether or not a medication is working for you, and if it’s causing unpleasant side effects. You can then take that record to your care provider to discuss. “How Are You Feeling” also offers benefits for supplement-takers. This feature might help you realize that you haven’t had a cold since you started on daily probiotics … or that the pricey supplement you’re taking for joint pain isn’t helping and isn’t worth the spend.

Download this latest version in the App Store now, and then review it or write to us to let us know what you think!

Our Community By the Numbers

Adherence rates of over 90% seen in first 14 weeks of app being live.

Now that 14 weeks have passed since our launch a clear picture of the Mango Health community is starting to emerge. What we’re finding: our users rely upon the app to manage both life-saving medications and quality-of-life ones, encompassing a broad range of prescriptions, OTC drugs, and supplements.

We’re observing medication and supplement adherence patterns in real time and developing detailed insight into how our community interacts with medications and supplements on a daily basis. We thought we’d share some of these insights here—we hope you find them interesting!


Our Biggest Update Yet

We are excited to announce that our biggest app update yet is available for download on the Apple App Store.

In today’s release, we’ve included a few of the features most requested by the Mango Health community, and we’re eager to see how these changes work for you. Here is a quick overview of the new features:

Ability to edit history. Since our launch in April, the request we heard the most from you all is an ability to go back and edit medication and supplement history. Many of you wrote in and explained that in some cases you took your medication but weren’t able to respond to the app reminder in a timely way, say because you were at work. We understand the importance of keeping an accurate record, so now when you need to correct your history you can tap the ‘Edit’ button in the top right-hand corner of the History screen. You will be able to edit the most recent 30 days of history.

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Custom alert tones. As we received your feedback, we realized that folks sometimes don’t notice our banner push notifications and some of you mentioned that you don’t hear our short, default alert tone. To address this we worked with a sound designer to create two custom tones—you can now go to the Settings section of the app to choose a longer alert tone that’s specific to the Mango Health app.

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The team had a lot of fun choosing our custom tones, and we hope you like them too—let us know what you think!

Auto-snooze option for reminders. Several of you told us that you miss your reminders if you’re busy when an alert comes in. To help, we created an “auto-snooze” option, which means that when you don’t respond to an initial reminder you’ll automatically receive a follow-up reminder 10 minutes later. This optional feature can be found in the Settings section of the app.

Earn bonus points when you invite friends. Our team wanted a way to give something back to people who are sharing the app, so we decided to start awarding bonus points to Mango Health users who invite friends to the application. You’ll now earn 10 points for every friend you invite to join Mango Health. We’ll reward you for up to three invites, for a total of 30 bonus points. You’ll find the new “Invite a Friend” feature either via the More menu or from a promotion on the homescreen,

We hope you like these new features, and we can’t wait to complete our next set of features and share them with you!

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or feedback about this update.
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Prenatal Vitamins and Pregnancy: Why It’s Essential You Remember to Take Them

Whether you’re hoping to get pregnant soon or have just confirmed the good news, you should talk to your doctor about prenatal vitamins. These vitamin and mineral supplements are formulated to ensure that you and your future child get all the nutrients you need during this important time.

During pregnancy your nutrient needs change, so even if you eat a healthy and diverse diet you should take a prenatal supplement to guard against nutritional gaps. According to the Mayo Clinic, a good prenatal supplement should contain folic acid, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B-6. But the exact formulation should be chosen with your doctor to meet your individual needs.

Here are a few of the nutrients usually found in prenatals, and why they’re so important:

Folic acid: Doctors have long known that folic acid is crucial to fetal brain development, and a study released in February found that this B vitamin may prevent autism too: Women who took vitamins containing folic acid before pregnancy and during early pregnancy were 40% less likely to have a baby later diagnosed with autism.

Iron: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women’s iron needs increase during pregnancy to produce extra blood and support the growth of the baby. Studies have shown that pregnant women who take prenatal supplements containing iron are less likely to have low birth weight babies.

Essential Fatty Acids: Many prenatal vitamins now contain essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA, which are found in fish and believed to promote fetal brain health. The jury is still out on whether essential fatty acid supplements are important during pregnancy, so ask for your doctor’s opinion. If you don’t eat much fish, a prenatal containing EFAs could fill that void.

While it’s essential to get the right nutrients during pregnancy, know that when it comes to supplements more isn’t necessarily better. Past research has found that women who took high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy were more likely to have babies with birth defects.

The bottom line: Talk to your doctor about which prenatal vitamins and supplements you should be taking, and follow his or her advice.

Mango Health makes it easy for expectant moms to stay healthy during their pregnancies. Our medication and supplement database includes the most commonly recommended prenatal vitamins, as well as other medications and supplements you may be taking. Once you enter in the vitamins your doctor recommends and the schedule you need to follow, the app will send you helpful reminders so you never miss a dose. The fun part is that you earn points every day when you stay on your suggested schedule, and as the points add up you unlock the chance to win real-world rewards.

Are you using Mango Health to help you keep track of your prenatal vitamins? Please tell us about your experience.

How to Change a Habit

We all have at least one bad habit we wish we could drop, and good ones we wish could adopt. But if changing a habit will have a big positive impact on your health, you’ve got to end the idle wishing and make a plan. Our mission at Mango Health is to help people get healthier, and make it easy and even fun, so we thought we’d share the best advice we’ve learned on how to break bad habits and pick up good ones. If you want to start exercising before work, stop eating sugar, go vegan, go Paleo, stop smoking, start mediating or make any healthy behavior change, pay attention to these 6 principles:

Write it down. Putting your habit change goal down on paper holds you accountable, at least to yourself. Even better: State your goal to friends and family and ask them to hold you accountable too. Once you’ve declared your goal, make it so you can’t forget about it—via Post-its around your house or reminders programmed into your phone.

Link goals with values. One reason we resist healthier habits is that some part of us is defensive–we resent and resist the message that we need to change, even if we know that it’s true. In a recent interview, University of Michigan professor and health expert Victor Strecher explains that we can break through that defensiveness by affirming our core values, an idea called self-affirmation theory. Says Strecher: “If you write down or are rating your core values, such as your faith or your commitment to family, and then are exposed to a health message that you may normally process defensively, you’re more likely to accept it. When you start to put things in writing, you realize, ‘Hey, my values differ from my behaviors, don’t they?’.”
      So when you write down a goal (Start exercising/Stop smoking/Eat more vegetables) connect it with one of your core values (eg “It’s important to model healthy behavior for my kids” or “I need energy so I can give back to my community”). Tying habit change to something bigger than yourself dramatically increases your chance of success.

To form a healthy habit: Strategize around pain points. Writing down goals and values is just the first step—the secret to success lies in anticipating moments when you’ll be most tempted to quit a healthy habit or succumb to an unhealthy one. In last year’s fascinating book The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg writes that patients prescribed painful post-operative exercise routines were far more likely to adhere to them if they wrote down exactly how and when they were going to exercise, and how they would handle discomfort along the way. Writes Duhigg: “The patients’ plans were built around inflection points when they knew their pain—and thus the temptation to quit—would be strongest. The patients were telling themselves how they were going to make it over the hump.” So if your goal is to start running in the morning, anticipate that it’s sometimes freezing in your bedroom at 6:30 AM, and place your running clothes and a cozy fleece right next to your bed at night, so you’re that much less likely to hit the snooze button and hunker under the covers.

To break a bad habit: Know your triggers. A trigger is a sight, sound, setting, emotion or other cue that sets a habit in motion, and is very hard to resist. So beating a bad habit requires IDing its triggers and avoiding them or crafting a plan for handling them. If there’s a certain restaurant where you usually eat or drink too much, switching to a different go-to restaurant could help you stick to a diet, even if the food is no healthier at the new place. (And switching to a more expensive restaurant will definitely help—think about how New York’s smoking rates have dropped by more than twice as much as national ones since it adopted the country’s highest cigarette tax.)
      Of course, some triggers can’t be avoided so easily. Let’s say feeling stressed at work has been your cue to go to the office vending machine and buy potato chips. You can’t avoid work stress entirely, but you can replace the bad habit it triggers with a healthier one—maybe going for a ten-minute walk or calling a friend or relative for a quick check-in.

Going big might be better. If you have multiple habits that need changing, you should tackle one at a time, right? Actually, there’s evidence that positive habit changes are better in pairs: A recent Stanford study found that people who adopted healthier eating habits and began new exercise routines simultaneously were more successful at achieving healthy eating and fitness goals than were people who focused on changing only food or fitness habits, not both.

Remember: You don’t have to be how you’ve been any longer. This is probably the first rule of habit change (but we’re putting it last because we think it’s the most important to remember): Accept that your future doesn’t need to resemble your past, that just because you’ve “always” done something doesn’t mean you can’t stop, just because you’ve never done something doesn’t mean you can’t start, and you’re given a new chance to get healthy every day. Changing habits isn’t easy, but it is possible. And the sooner you start, the better you’ll feel—so what habit are you going to change?

Four Surprising Dangerous Drug Interactions

For most of us, taking medications and supplements is essential to staying healthy and feeling our best. In fact, 4 out of 5 Americans take some combination of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and supplements each week. But mixing doctor-prescribed medications with herbal remedies and those reliable OTC painkillers and cold meds can pose dangers. In some cases, treatments that work well on their own can throw your body for a loop when you take them together, cancelling out their healing properties or even doing harm. Here are just a few surprising examples of interactions that we cover in the Mango Health app:

Antacids and Antibiotics
We tend to see over-the-counter drugs as totally harmless—why else would they be so easy to buy? And sure, things like painkillers, digestion aids and allergy pills are safe when taken as directed, but many people don’t realize that these everyday drugs can cause dangerous interactions when taken with certain prescription medications.
Interaction example: Mixing some antacids with common antibiotics like doxycycline can reduce antibiotic effectiveness.

Antidepressants and Heart Meds
Many of us visit doctors who aren’t always well connected to each other. In this case, they don’t always know what other drugs we’ve been prescribed, upping the chances we’ll be prescribed medications that shouldn’t be taken together.
Interaction example: Popular drugs used to prevent heart attacks and strokes may be less effective when taken with popular antidepressants.

St. John’s Wort and Birth Control Pills
According to the CDC, over half of American adults are taking a nutritional supplement. Unfortunately, some of the most popular supplements can cause dangerous interactions with medications.
Interaction example: Take St. John’s Wort—it’s one of the top-selling supplements in the US, most often taken as a natural alternative to antidepressants. But there’s evidence that St. John’s Wort can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills, antibiotics, allergy medications, and also interact with cough medicines, heart medications and more.

Apple Juice and Allergy Pills
Some good-for-you foods can be anything but when you take them with certain medications. You’ve probably heard that grapefruit can interact with everything from heart medications to antidepressants, but there are lesser known foods and drinks that can cause drug interactions. Make sure that what’s on your plate or in your glass won’t mix poorly with your pills.
Interaction example: Drinking apple juice can reduce the effectiveness of common allergy medications.

Taking medications and supplements is serious business, but it should never be scary. The Mango Health alert system gives you important information about each medication you enter into your personalized tracker, including side effects, potential interactions with other drugs, supplements and foods, and questions to ask your doctor. We set out to make taking, tracking and understanding medications and supplements easier, because we know that doing these things right is essential to taking control of your health.

Have you learned anything new from the Mango Health app about your medications and how they interact? Please share your story with us!

What’s New with Mango Health? Submit Medications in Two Easy Steps…and Other Great Updates in Our Latest Release

We just released the newest version of Mango Health (v 1.08) on the Apple App Store and wanted to update you on what’s new in this release.

But first, we wanted to take a moment thank so many of you who wrote in after our launch on April 2 with feedback on the first version of the app. It’s very clear that we already have an active community of users, and we are so grateful for the time you have taken to send us your thoughts. The feedback you provided has helped us prioritize many new features, and we are pleased to be releasing some of those new features today.

Today’s release is focused on expanding our coverage of medications and supplements. While there are currently over 8,000 medications and supplements in our database—including most USFDA approved medications and many nutritional supplements—your feedback has made it clear that we need to continue to expand our coverage. The first step we have taken is we’ve updated our database to include newly released medications.

As we expand our database, we are 100% committed to ensuring all of our data and information is completely accurate. But this level of accuracy can take some time. It also takes time to figure out exactly which medications and supplements aren’t yet included. With this in mind, the second step we have taken is we’ve built a new feature into Mango Health that allows you to flag the medications and supplements we don’t currently have in our database. It only takes two easy steps. Here’s how it works:

1) When you’re adding a medication and cannot find it in our list, scroll to the bottom and tap the row that says ‘Don’t see your medication? Tell us!’ The screen looks like this:

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2) You can double check the spelling on the next screen and then tap the green ‘OK’ button to submit the item to us.

And that’s it! We wanted to make this feature easy for you to use in the hope that it will help us more quickly understand the common items we are missing. While expanded coverage is a major priority for us, please note that in some cases we may not be able to find good quality content for the item you suggest we add, and in other cases it may take time to work with our partners to add new items to the database.

What else did we add in this new release? We’ve improved the app’s overall speed and performance, and fixed a bug with our gift fulfillment that caused some of you to see a black screen after you chose your gift.

Thank you again for all of the awesome feedback! It means so much to us, and your voice keeps us on track as we continue to improve and iterate on the Mango Health app.

Have a suggestion you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mangohealth
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Questions or input? Contact us.

All the best,
The Mango Health team

What You’re Saying About Mango Health

It’s been an exciting week here, and we’d like to thank everybody who has supported us in launching the Mango Health app. Whether you’ve advised us along the way, participated in our beta program, joined in spreading the word or shared your experience using our app with other people, your help has made the launch a success. We couldn’t have done it without you!

We’ve made it our mission to inspire people to improve their health. As we dug into this challenge, we learned that one crucial aspect of healthy living—taking medications and supplements correctly and safely—can be a real struggle for busy people. So we decided to tackle that issue and build an app that’s fun to use and keeps people on track.

We live for feedback, and thanks to you we’ve received a lot of it in the past week. The response has been pretty great, and we wanted to share some of what people are saying about Mango Health so far.

Comments on Twitter:
“One question after the launch of Mango Health – Where have you been all my life?!” – Will (@_wplusb)

"Right as I was thinking to myself ‘I wish there was an app to remind me to take my vitamins’ I find this. Awesome." – Abid (@abidc)

"Interesting app by Mango Health to up med compliance. Love the interaction database too." – Matthew (@matthewjgeary)

"I just downloaded the new Mango Health app. Medication reminders and compliance with an awesome UX. Check it out." – Joe (@eclinical)

"Game on! Mango Health is turning taking pills into a game." – Brenda (@b_reginatto)

"What a great product!" – Doug (@doug_gammons)

Reviews from the Apple App Store:
“I have been using for a few weeks (in the beta). Surprised how much better it made me about taking my meds and vitamins. Before I used to end a month with a disturbingly high number of pills. No more. App is easy to use.” – AppMaster 900

“Great way to stay organized with medications, vitamins and more. It actually makes being healthy fun.” – Akilicp

“This app is great. Provides notifications when I need to take medications, without being annoying. Love that the first reward benefits a good cause.” – Wijiw

“This app is exactly what I needed. I’m super forgetful about taking medications but this app reminds me, keeps track of when and what I’ve taken and even tells me about possible interactions. Super polished and pretty as well.” – Lilpinky

In the Press:
“Not every gamified app is compelling—in many cases, sticking a points system and some badges on an app just makes it clunky. Mango Health has avoided that trap—most likely because of the gaming background of its founders.” – Fast Company Co.Exist

“The app’s colorful, clean design is more inviting than many health apps on the market. But the real trick to getting people to stay hooked is a reward system.” – GigaOm

“But it’s the game component that sets the app apart, which Mango Health CEO Jason Oberfest said motivates people and keeps users engaged with their personal health goals.” – Los Angeles Times

“A new mobile app aimed at allowing people to manage their personal health by tracking medications and nutritional supplements they take — is launching after a 16-week pilot program and a strategic deal with retail giant Target. The app rewards users with gift cards or allows them to make charitable donations for correctly following their medical regimens by using game design concepts.” – AllThingsD

“Mango Health’s app gamifies the whole process with eight different levels that offer different kinds of rewards that range up to $100 gift certificates or discounts. It also keeps a journal of medications and supplements that people take.” – TechCrunch

“Mango Health’s iOS app aims to use its game design principles to help solve this problem. The idea is that when users stick to the schedule, virtual points are earned and can be accrued to receive real-world rewards.” – The Next Web

Needless to say, we’re very happy to hear all these nice words. But you’ve also given us a lot of great suggestions and input on new features you want to see in Mango Health, and we’re working hard to implement them. Stay tuned!

Have a suggestion you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.
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Questions or input? Contact us.