ORCAS Awarded NIH Grant to Develop and Study Depression and Metabolic Syndrome App

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Funded by a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), ORCAS will create a new mobile app designed to fill a well-known gap in the population health management market.

ORCAS, with funds awarded from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, will develop and study a mobile self-management app to promote emotional and physical wellbeing of adults with both metabolic syndrome and depression. The two conditions often exist together, each making the other more severe, difficult to manage, and costly to individuals, employers, and payers. The new app will offer an integrated approach to improve depression symptoms, physical activity, diet, and weight loss, with the goal of helping people better manage their chronic conditions, taking the burden off traditional care.

People with metabolic syndrome have three or more of these conditions: excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, blood sugar or triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol. When they occur together they increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The intervention app will support users’ intrinsic motivation to engage in small health behaviors and then guide them toward clinically meaningful health habits. It will use a theory-based goal-attainment approach to engage working adults in cognitive-behavioral strategies to manage depression, and weight-loss activities to manage metabolic syndrome.

“Both depression and metabolic disorders are extremely common in the U.S. and abroad. If someone is dealing with both conditions, it’s almost impossible to find support that addresses them as a whole person managing two interconnected issues,” said Amy Birney, ORCAS Behavioral Scientist and Science Director. "This intervention will be a key addition to the ORCAS mobile self-management platform that addresses all the major lifestyle conditions and their co-morbidities.”

ORCAS has already released products for depression, hypertension, and back pain and will be adding mobile health coaching, stress/resilience, obesity and diabetes to its lineup in 2015.

“We’re interested in understanding what activates people to make better daily choices between doctor visits," said Theresa Mulvihill, COO and Director of Product Development. “Each new study helps guide future iterations of our mobile products so we’re continually improving effectiveness.”


ORCAS is a health technology and innovation company that applies extensive behavioral research to mobile self-management interventions that help people manage their health and change their behavior in meaningful ways. The executive management team has extensive experience in the behavioral health and wellness industry and ORCAS behavioral scientists have over 20 years of research experience running full clinical trials on web and mobile behavior change interventions. With the rise of mobile technology and the Health 2.0 movement, ORCAS is poised to provide engaging solutions that create lasting improvements in health and wellness while reducing costs to healthcare organizations, employers, and consumers.

For more information please call (541) 349-4807 or email info(at)orcasinc(dot)com.

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