June 10, 2015

First-year PhD student Junaed Siddiqui won first prize at the Maryland Innovate 4 Health Challenge for his mobile health app, “ePuffin,” which uses wearable technology to incentivize behavioral change in adolescents with an elevated risk of developing diabetes.

Siddiqui, a student in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, pitched his app and corresponding business idea on June 4, 2015 in a “Shark Tank”-style competition at the Maryland Health IT Conference, an industry event featuring the latest innovations and ideas that shape the healthcare ecosystem. He won first place in the College category and took home $2,000 in prize money, which he plans to use for continuing the app’s development.

The Maryland Innovate 4 Health Challenge is organized by the the MdBio Foundation, Inc., the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) at UMD's Robert H. Smith School of Business, the Maryland Health Tech Coalition, and Howard Community College. This year’s challenge focused on the theme of “Empowering Patients, Providers and Community with Creative plus Usable Solutions.” Participants were challenged to develop a solution – a set of tools, processes and technologies coupled with a business strategy -- that could improve patient and/or population health, program management, and/or reduce costs. EPuffin uses behavioral economics strategies and health behavior theory approaches to reduce the incidence and prevalence of prediabetes in kids. The app harnesses the vast amounts of real-time data readily available from commercial fitness trackers, such as Jawbone and Fitbit, to help foster behavioral change and positive lifestyle choices.

Inspired by the death of a college classmate from Type I diabetes, Siddiqui designed the app as part of a joint course between Howard Community College and the University of Maryland on developing mobile health skills and strategies. He aims to help adolescents understand their own behaviors through fitness trackers, and then motivate and incentivize them to improve their lifestyle in order to prevent the onset of diabetes.

“I have always been fascinated by the business end of mobile health and public health,” Siddiqui said. “I feel confident that my idea has potential and scalability, and I’m honored that the judges saw that as well.”

“The level of competition and creativity that these teams displayed was inspiring,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of the MdBio Foundation. “It’s marvelous when students can bring a fresh perspective and innovative thinking to address a national or global health challenge. When considering the effort and serious consideration of health issues that went into these projects, the future indeed looks bright.”

Related Links

Students from Clarksburg High School and University of Maryland Awarded Top Prizes in Innovate 4 Health Challenge

Q&A with Juanaed Siddiqui on ePuffin Mobile Health App

Related People
Junaed Siddiqui
Related Degree: 
PhD, Behavioral and Community Health