A “nutritionist in your pocket.” That’s what nutrition app Rise offers, with 1-on-1 coaching with a registered dietician to help you achieve your nutrition goals.
Referring a patient to a nutritionist can allow for excellent patient education in nutrition choices and modifications. But, like a New Years resolution, most people fail to adopt the healthier habits long-term. The Rise app attempts to provide a daily assessment and coaching approach to helping people achieve their nutrition and health goals.
The app utilizes a key feature of successful changes: accountability. Whether someone is an athlete training for an event or a diabetic patient trying to lose weight and control his or her disease through lifestyle changes, the Rise app has a coach for you. After using the Rise app over the past few weeks, I will offer my thoughts and feedback.
The app starts by completing a profile that includes basic demographic information, a weight history (recent max weight, recent min weight, and goal weight), and additional questions about your eating and exercise habits. Based on your goals, the app pairs you with a registered dietician as a 1-on-1 coach. After introductions, the coach will assess your goals and learn about your eating habits over the course of the first few weeks. The key is to be honest so that the coach can provide personalized and appropriate feedback. The profile also allows the user to automatically track weight and activity via integration with HealthKit or other digital health devices and provides a graph of trends over time.
The main data capture for the app revolves around the Journal tab. Unlike most nutrition journals, the Rise app allows input via text or simply snapping a photo of your meal or snack. Additionally, instead of food labels, calorie counting, and other confusing information, the app emphasizes healthy choices and nutritional education to help make lifestyle changes that will stick. However, for some people, such as patients with heart failure or chronic kidney disease, recommendations that are more quantitative (i.e. salt intake, calories) are important and are not specifically captured in this app.
A key feature of successful health apps is ease of use. The user interface for Rise meets those standards. It is very simple and allows rapid documentation. The app does send pushed reminders to log meals, but personalized, active reminders could help with motivation. The journal breaks meals into breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. The app records the time of the meal and a simple tap brings up the camera for convenient point and shoot of the meal and another tap to save it. Everything is built into the app, and the user never has to leave the app interface to pull up the camera.
The coach has access to the journal and can approve with a checkmark or leave a comment much like Facebook likes or comments, so even the technically-challenged will be familiar with the concept. To help with motivation, it would be useful if the app would allow sharing meals or journals with friends/family in order to push behavior changes and provide accountability.
For a physician recommending this app for patients, combining this approach with a short period of calorie and salt tracking may help make specific reductions while also pushing better food choices. In our own experience, for example, a short period of more intensive tracking can really help patients get a deeper insight into their diets. For example, we’ve had a number of patients express disbelief about the salt content of deli meat or the extent through which they could cut calories by simply substituting regular soda for diet.
The message function of the app is a great feature to allow both the coach and user to ask questions outside of the comments for specific meals. The messaging works just like SMS or iMessage, so again, these functions are easy and simple for most people. The coach reviews the journal and activity on a daily basis, approving meals and snacks, and offering comments and suggestions. The user can respond to comments within each meal tab, allowing for easy review at a later date. Once the coach gets to know the specific user, the two can work together to set weekly goals and challenges. The coaches offer snack and meal ideas, and make suggestions about substituting one food item with a healthier one. During busy days when I had to eat out, the coach was able to help me make better choices at restaurants.
It’s important to note that the coaches are not aggressive or pushy. For less motivated users, they will send reminders to gently nudge use of the app but the impetus is ultimately on the user to be an active participant. So just like other types of health tracking, appropriate patient selection is important when considering if your patient would be well served by Rise.
To make it easy for the user, the Activity tab consolidates all the feedback from the coach. By clicking the Activity tab, the user can see all comments and approvals organized with the most recent at the top. By clicking on each activity alert, the user is taken to the specific meal and comments, after which the activity is marked as read. Coaches review the journal at least once every 24 hours, and I experienced several instances where the coach provided feedback more often. In addition, I also received friendly reminder comments when I waited to log my meals until later in the day: “Hope to hear from you soon Steve!!” Knowing that someone is taking an interest in your nutrition and goals is an important motivator.
In addition to the basic functions above, optional settings include meal reminders and connection to Apple HealthKit or Fitbit to allow the coach to see your steps, sleep, exercise, and other parameters. Finally, the app also sends weekly emails with articles from the Rise blog such as “Recipe: carrot and quinoa stew”, “post-workout snacks”, and “5 gluten free grains”, to name a few.
There is currently no available clinical data to support the use of Rise, though we hope that is coming soon as this is precisely the type of platform that can be readily evaluated. That being said, it does deliver the guidance of a trained health professional to the patient as they are making the nutritional choices their physicians have been counseling them about.
- Weekly - $15/week | Monthly - $48/month | Quarterly - $120/3 months
- Easy to use
- 1-on-1 nutrition coaching
- Snap photo of meal
- Instant Messaging features
- Links with wearable devices via Fitbit and Apple HealthKit
- Lifestyle modifications, not diet or calorie counting
- Expensive (although less than $2 per day)
- Requires patient motivation
- Lack of ability to share journal with friends/family
- Lack of quantitative calorie or nutrient tracking
The Rise app is for anyone looking to focus on eating healthy and instituting nutritional lifestyle changes. As a physician, the accountability and motivational components are key features that make this app attractive to refer patients that need nutritional guidance. However, the ability to share with friends and family would make this app better. Patient adoption would be high secondary to the easy to use interface and daily 1-on-1 coaching. However, the cost may be prohibitive for many patients.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
- Multimedia Usage
Simple, attractive interface design that is easy to navigate. Photos embedded in the journal tab.
- Real World Applicability
Good nutrition app to provide daily, 1-on-1 coaching to emphasize lifestyle changes.
- Device Used For Review
- Available for DownloadiPhoneiPad