CDC Announces Onlife Health As Winner of First Health Behavior Data Challenge

CDC Announces Onlife Health As Winner of First Health Behavior Data Challenge

$45,000 Grand Prize Awarded For New App That Improves Public Health Surveillance



Brentwood, Tenn., August 29, 2018— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced that Onlife Health, a national company with 22 years of expertise in delivering comprehensive wellness engagement solutions, has been selected as the winner of the agency’s first Healthy Behavior Data Challenge (HBDC).


Onlife Health will receive a $45,000 grand prize for its winning proposal, Closing the Loop: Augmenting Mobile Data Sources for Public Health Surveillance. The proposal included the development of a Healthy Behavior Challenge App that collects data tracked by wearable devices and other mobile applications and then validates the data by asking the user to confirm the reported activity with a one-touch response.


The Healthy Data Behavior Challenge is a new initiative created by the CDC to support the development of novel methodologies and innovative data sources (wearable devices, mobile applications, social media) to enhance traditional healthy behavior surveillance systems. This specific challenge asked innovators to create new ways to collect and validate data used to measure physical activity, sleep, sedentary behavior and nutrition.

“Winning this national competition conducted by the CDC further demonstrates our ability here at Onlife Health to deliver innovative technological solutions that open up new ways to collect and use health data,” said Mark McConnell, president and CEO of Onlife Health. “The development of the Healthy Behavior Challenge App was a total team effort that involved our Informatics Department as well as our product development and marketing/design personnel. We are truly honored to receive this national recognition from the CDC.”


More information about Onlife’s winning submission, which was one of only five American finalists selected by the CDC, is available at


Traditional methods of data collection for health-related behaviors have been resource- and time-intensive, relying primarily on phone or face-to-face interviews. This self-reported data is also subject to under/over reporting and recall bias. Data collected through wearable devices, activity trackers, sleep monitors, and other mobile health applications also has its limitations as it lacks the context, provided by asking follow-up questions, that increases the validity and reliability of the data.


The new Onlife app addresses these limitations by using validation grids. A series of short, just-in-time survey questions, delivered via push notification, prompts the user to confirm, edit or supply new information that supplements the data tracked with the wearable device. Statistical analysis then cross-validates the mobile and survey data sets with each other as well as with data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the world’s largest telephone health survey system, which tracks health risks in the United States.


“The Healthy Behavior Challenge App consumes the objective data and then pushes additional questions and validation grids to the individual in order to both confirm and add context to the objectively collected data,“ said Catherine Bass, Ph.D., director of informatics at Onlife Health. “By coupling survey data with validated device data, Onlife’s new app provides a more comprehensive view of a person’s health behaviors and makes analysis and identification of health behaviors more accurate and insightful. It improves public health surveillance by lowering costs, improving recall bias, reducing under/over reporting and boosting response rates. Our new app also creates the possibility of conducting large-scale automated data collection without additional expense.”


Initial testing of the Healthy Behavior Challenge App demonstrated a significant improvement in outcomes compared to traditional methods of data collection. The app collected 30 data points—everything from the amount of daily physical activity to the time it took to fall asleep—in the four required reporting categories: physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep and nutrition.


The CDC is currently looking into future activities to leverage the Healthy Behavior Challenge App, such as submitting a peer-reviewed publication on the work completed during the data challenge as well as incorporating the prototype into existing public health systems.


“We’re looking forward to working with the CDC to find new ways to utilize our mobile app and enhance both the quantity and quality of data collected,” Bass said. “From monitoring progress in treating chronic conditions to improving patient medication adherence, this new methodology from Onlife Health offers enormous potentials to improve the health of our nation.”


About Onlife Health

Onlife Health is a data-driven health solutions company. Our wellness engagement platform empowers more than 11 million people to take an active and ongoing role in their own health by leveraging sophisticated data analytics to understand a population and engage each of its members in meaningful programs. Whether it’s a wellness offering for an employer group or a Gaps Closure program to drive Medicare Star ratings, Onlife solutions support multiple populations to help individuals better their health and improve their sponsor’s bottom line. Our platform recognizes each individual’s distinct needs and supports them on their own unique healthcare journey via a personalized, seamless user experience that leverages their support ecosystem. For more information, visit

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