On health behavior research and Couchbase. Q&A with J.C. Subida, Software Developer, Northwestern University.
“ When designing our platform, we required a versatile solution that synchronized data between servers and devices on the edge. Furthermore, it had to provide efficient scaling as our data needs increased as well as high availability to minimize data collection from our participants. Couchbase met and exceeded these requirements.”
Q1. What is the mission of the Catalyst Lab?
The CATALYST research lab in the Feinberg School of Medicine is on the forefront of health behavior research.
Our work focuses primarily on behavioral risk factors for chronic disease (obesity, poor quality diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use). We also develop, optimize, and evaluate cutting-edge technology-supported interventions to support self-regulation and healthy behavior change. Finally, we create on-line learning tools to support skill mastery in evidence-based practice and team science.
We’re also conducting a healthy lifestyle and weight loss research program called EVO Study.
Participants enroll in the 12-month, remotely-delivered study and receive a free 6-month health program. The program includes personalized diet, physical activity and weight loss goals, a blood pressure machine and bluetooth scale to use during study sessions, one-on-one meetings with a trained Health Promotionist, and behavioral weight loss strategies through online lessons or a study booklet.
Q2. Can you tell us how you plan to reduce chronic disease risk factors by optimizing innovative, technology-supported interventions?
We use innovative, engineering inspired, research methodology to test behavior intervention components so that we create interventions that can scale and balance efficacy with ease and affordability. We have a wide collaboration network that uses our technology and methods to test behavior change interventions in a wide variety of patient populations with a wide variety of behaviors. So we test things like using wearables and smartphone apps to support increasing physical activity in the population, cancer survivors, patients dealing with sleep apnea, and those with peripheral artery disease. We also use mobile health tools to support individuals in changing multiple health behaviors to prevent cardiovascular disease and promote healthy aging.
Q3. What kind of technologies do you use for this?
Our platform collects wearable data at varying granularities from minute-level to daily summaries. Specifically, we integrate with Fitbits, Actigraphs, and ResMed CPAP machines. Native iOS and Android applications enable participants to partake in our studies.
The dashboard, which uses AngularJS, presents collected data to Health Promotionists and data analysts. The API, built using Node.JS, provides role-based access to the platform. To implement each study’s specific strategies, we utilize a Python-based framework to execute timed tasks and respond to certain events.
Q4. Why did you select Couchbase as part of this tech effort?
When designing our platform, we required a versatile solution that synchronized data between servers and devices on the edge. Furthermore, it had to provide efficient scaling as our data needs increased as well as high availability to minimize data collection from our participants. Couchbase met and exceeded these requirements.
Q5. Specifically, what do you use Couchbase for?
Couchbase stores all data collected from our mobile apps and participant-worn devices. We rely heavily on the bi-directional synchronization features to ensure participants receive the appropriate intervention on their mobile device based on server-side processed data.
Q6. Do you have any feedback from patients so far? If yes, can you share them with us?
We receive a lot of positive feedback from our participants. The technology itself helps people track on a day-to-day basis how they are doing with changing their health. Over time participants will often tell us they feel healthier, are more active, and have improved clinical health markers like blood pressure and cholesterol.
Q7. Are there any concerns that personal health data can be misused?
Always. We employ the highest standards for protecting patient data in our research trials, consistent with requirements from our sponsors and our institution.
Q8. Do you have some preliminary results to share?
The results we planned on sharing are locked down by the journal that owns the publication, so we can’t disseminate them independently at this time.
J.C. Subida, Software Developer, Northwestern University
Experienced software engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education and startup industries. Skilled in iOS Design, Computer Science, Node.JS, Python, and Mobile Applications. Strong engineering professional with a Bachelor of Science focused in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a certificate in Software Engineering.
Sponsored by Couchbase.