Welcome to NUCoach

Welcome to the NUCoach documentation blog. NUCoach is a modular health coaching and research platform built by the Health Behavior Informatics Lab at Northeastern University. Supported by DeepHealth Lab technologies, NUCoach is a powerful yet flexible tool that allows health behavior researchers to gather immense amounts of participant data in real world contexts in near real time. Through sensor integrations and experience sampling, we can not only learn more about our participants’ behaviors but be better prepared to intervene in the right context at the right time.

NUCoach is exclusively available for use by members of the Consortium on Technology for Proactive Care.

NUCoach training curriculum

We have begun developing our documentation and training curriculum, all of which can be found in this blog. Below you will find links to specific entries. We are still working on this–your patience is greatly appreciated!

NUCoach console

NUCoach mobile app

  • Downloading the app
    • Apple ID and password required for iPhone users. Misfit requires OS 8.0 and up
    • Android users must use version 4.4 and up
  • Review all screens: Home, Today, Conversations, Help, Profile/User Preferences
  • How to…(for these, see Manage your profile)
    • Switch projects
    • Connect devices
  • Signing in
  • Companion apps (MS Band, Deep Health, Misfit, etc)
  • Tricks and tips
    • View app in a browser (to reset password, disconnect devices)

Development

Using NUCoach console AngularJS modules in Coaching Modules

Hi,

It is possible to use angularJS built in modules in coachActivity and coachCard codes.

Here are the list of modules that you can use

ngAnimate',
'ngAria',
'ngCookies',
'ngMessages',
'ngResource',
'ngRoute',
'ngSanitize',
'ngTouch',
'ui.ace',
'ui.bootstrap',
'ui.mask',
'cgNotify',
'cgBusy',
'angularMoment',
'xeditable',
'ngTable',
'angular-loading-bar',
'ngProgress',
'summernote',
'angularScreenfull',
'ngTextTruncate',
'dialogs.main',
'infinite-scroll'

FAQ: How can I get access to NUCoach?

NUCoach is available exclusively to the members of the Consortium on Technology for Proactive Care, an international research partnership lead by Northeastern University’s Health Behavior Informatics Lab. To learn more about the Consortium, visit our website.

We are currently unable to offer access to NUCoach to researchers outside of our active projects, but we plan to do this in the future. Our team is small, so we need additional resources in order to support more projects. We are currently developing ways to expand our capabilities.

One way to obtain access to NUCoach is to collaborate with us on a grant application. We would be happy to discuss potential joint projects, large or small, to see if the project would be a good fit. Please contact us to start the conversation.

Creating Action Plans

As mentioned in Key Features, an Action Plan is a collection of activities assigned to a client while he or she is participating in a study or program.  These activities are facilitated within the mobile app. Types of activities include:

  • Educational content
  • Scheduled surveys
  • Triggered surveys (in beta)
  • Taking/uploading photos

This post is broken down into 4 sections:

  1. Before you begin
  2. Creating activities
  3. Creating reminders
  4. Editing Action Plans

Before you begin

A coach can only assign activities if the appropriate module is added to that project. For instance, if a project only has the survey module, then a coach cannot assign educational content to be delivered. Only the project manager can add modules to projects.

Before creating an Action Plan, participants must first be added to the project as client users. Once a user is listed as a client on a project, the client will become available to a coach for Action Plan creation. Only the project manager can add clients to projects.

Building an Action Plan

While viewing a particular project, the coach will see Project Info on the left and Clients With An Action Plan in the center. To create an Action Plan for a new client, navigate to the top right corner of the Clients With An Action Plan box and click the orange button that says Clients Without An Action Plan. This will bring up a pop-up window that lists all available clients who do not currently have any activities assigned to them. Click on the desired client, then click the blue button that says Create Action Plan For Client. This will add the selected client to the list of Clients With An Action Plan. Once the client is added to this list, click the blue arrow to the left of their name and select View Activities to see the Action Plan view.

In the Action Plan view, you will see all of the planned activities that particular client. To create a new activity, navigate to the right corner of the light blue bar and click the green button that says Create New Activity to open up the activity creation window.

Creating Activities

There are 6 fields required to create an activity, 4 of which have default settings:

  • Title (no default)
  • Repetition
  • Start
  • Not. Title
  • Not. Body
  • Module (no default)

Title is the name of the activity. The client will not see this; it is for monitoring purposes only. Coaches can sort activities based on this title, so it is important that this field be brief yet descriptive. An example of a title is AM Survey. There is no default title, and an activity cannot be created unless this field is completed.

Repetition indicates how many times an activity should be repeated within an Action Plan. This field will default to Once Only, but there is no limit to how many repetitions one activity can have. To create a repeating activity, click on Once Only to reveal a checkbox. Click the checkbox next to Repeated?, then click on the blue arrow to view the activity repetition controls. Set the start date, the frequency (day or week), the time, and the end date. The dates and times of all planned repetitions will appear in the green box. Finish the remaining fields and create the activity to confirm these repetitions.

Start is the date and time at which the first activity will occur. This will default to 5 minutes from the time the coach clicks on Create New Activity.  If you select a Start date/time and then modify the Repetition field, this will erase your previous Start entry.

Not. Title is short for Notification Title. This is a brief introduction to a message that is visible to the client. It is recommended that coaches change the default text (NUCoach) to something more descriptive. This title can be the same as the previously entered title, e.g. AM Survey.

Not. Body is short for Notification Body. This is the text visible to the client below the previously entered title (NUCoach or custom text). This field defaults to You have a new activity waiting for your response, but it is recommended that coaches change this to be more instructive. Many activities are follow by links, so an example of a Not. Body for a survey would be, “Hello! How are you feeling today? Please follow the link to tell us about your day.”

Module determines the function of the activity. For instance, if a coach is creating a survey activity, he/she must select the survey module in order to create the survey itself. Certain modules will require additional inputs that will be addressed in future posts.

After all 6 fields are completed, click the blue button on the bottom right that says Create X activities. This will create X number of activities in the client’s Action Plan.

Important note: While each activity has it’s own unique identifier (Act. ID), activities created using the Repetition feature will have the same repetition identifier (Rep. ID). You can see these IDs in the dark blue bar beneath each activity.

Creating Reminders

Reminders, or unidirectional scheduled text messages, are somewhat separate from Activities within the Action Plan. Coaches can toggle between Activities and Reminders from the Action Plan view. To create a reminder, click the green button that says Create New Reminder to open the reminder creation window.

There are 4 variables required to create a reminder or series of reminders, 3 of which have defaults:

  • Title
  • Body
  • Repetition
  • Start

Title is a brief introduction to a message that is visible to the client. It is recommended that coaches change the default text (NUCoach) to something more descriptive like Daily Check-in or Time to Walk!

Body is the text visible to the client below the previously entered title (NUCoach or custom text). Unlike activities, this field has no default. A few examples of what might go here is: “You’re doing a great job!” or “Did you know that physical activity can help manage your pain?”

Repetition indicates how many times a reminder should be repeated within an Action Plan. This field will default to Once Only, but there is no limit to how many repetitions one reminder can have. To create a repeating reminder, click on Once Only to reveal a checkbox. Click the checkbox next to Repeated?, then click on the blue arrow to view the activity repetition controls. Set the start date, the frequency (day or week), the time, and the end date. The dates and times of all planned repetitions will appear in the green box. Finish the remaining fields and create the reminder to confirm these repetitions.

Start is the date and time at which the first reminder will occur. This will default to 5 minutes from the time the coach clicks on Create New Reminder.  If you select a Start date/time and then modify the Repetition field, this will erase your previous Start entry.

Editing Action Plans

Currently, activities and reminders cannot be edited–they can only be monitored or deleted. If you make a mistake when creating an activity, reminder, or groups of activities/reminders, you must delete them and recreate them with the correct parameters.

When deleting activities/reminders, there are 3 options:

  • Delete this instance
  • Delete all future instances
  • Delete all instances

Delete this instance will only delete a single activity. If the activity is a part of a series of repeated activities, the rest of the series will not be deleted.

Delete all future instances will delete the selected activity as well as all future activities in that series of repeated activities. In other words, all activities with the same Rep. ID from the time of the selected activity through the end of the action plan will be deleted. These cannot be recovered.

Delete all instances will delete the selected activity as well as all  other instances (past or future) in that series of repeated activities. In other words, all activities with the same Rep. ID will be deleted regardless of whether or not they have already occurred. It is unlikely that any coach will need to use this function in practice.

Communicating with other users

NUCoach allows users to communicate with each other in multiple ways (depending on their role):

  • Via the app. Coaches and participants in a project can communicate with each other through the app only. By tapping the envelope icon on the NUCoach app, a user can start a conversation with an individual or a group. These conversations will only appear in the app, except for….
  • Via the console dashboard/chat (coach to coaches). Coaches in a project can communicate with each other through the app AND the console dashboard. From the app, tap the envelope icon just like above. From the web dashboard, navigate to the lower right screen and click the light blue box that says Chat With Other Coaches. These conversations are seamless; in other words, one conversation can be accessed through both mechanisms. This is the most efficient way for all of the coaches on a project to communicate with each other.
  • Via the console dashboard/text message (coach to participant). Coaches in a project can send instant one-way messages to participants in that project by clicking the envelope next to the participant’s user name. This will generate a pop-up window in which you can write a brief message to a participant. You can also see previously sent messages by clicking the History tab.

Please note the following:

  • Notifications will only be received through the mobile app.
  • It is not recommended that participants use the mobile app communication feature at this time, as messages can easily be missed by coaches.
  • Participants cannot respond to text messages generated through the dashboard, so remember to include a phone number if they need to call you back.

Unenrolling a participant

When a participant finishes or drops out of a study, there are several steps that you must take to ensure data security and integrity.

  • Terminate the participant’s action plan. From the NUCoach console dashboard, click the blue arrow to the left of the participant’s Action Plan. Select the first option in red text–Terminate Action Plan. (Do NOT select Delete Action Plan. This will result in lost data.)
  • Delete the participant’s phone number and terminate their sensor subscription(s). Log into the participant’s account using the mobile interface: https://nucoach.org/mobile. (To properly view this, select Options on your internet browser, then More Tools, then Developer Tools. This should allow you to see the display as a smartphone.) In their Profile, change the phone number to 000-000-0000 and save. Scroll down to sensor subscriptions, and select a sensor that says Linked. On the next screen, select the option to Unlink. This will prevent participants from receiving additional messages.
  • Mark the Action Plan status as Dropped or CompletedThis will inform other coaches that they do not need to follow up with this participant.

NUCoach User Profiles

There are two ways to access your NUCoach profile:

  1. From the web version, log in through nucoach.org/console. Once you’ve logged in, navigate to the top of the right corner of the page and click on the gray bar with your user name. This will bring you to your Social Profile.
  2. From the mobile app: log in (if needed). You should land on the home page. If you’re not on the home page, touch the house icon. Touch the gray bar on the top right that says Profile.

Things you can do from the mobile profile:

  • Update your public name. For coaches, this should include your first name. For study participants, this should be their coded user name.
  • Upload/change your picture. Pictures are recommended for coach users but not for study participants.
  • Update your mobile phone number. This is critical for receiving system notifications.
  • View current project/unlink and logout. By touching the name of the project listed under Active Project, you will see the name of the project, the dates of enrollment, and the project’s coaches. This is also where an individual can switch projects by selecting Unlink and Logout at the bottom of this screen.
  • Manage sensor connections. This is where researchers and coaches are able to connect a sensor to a NUCoach account. To link successfully, the user will need their device’s account information. For instance, if a project requires a Misfit tracker, the participant will need a Misfit username and password in addition to their NUCoach username and password.
  • Select preferred method of notification. System notifications, including action plan activities and reminders, will always default to text message. However, if you prefer, you can change this setting to only send phone notifications. This is not recommended as it typically more difficult to find notifications on your phone.
  • Logout. This will log you out of NUCoach; when you log back in, you will still be connected to your active project. If you need to switch projects, scroll up to Active Project, then scroll to Unlink and Logout at the bottom. Make sure that you have sent a request to the Project Manager to be added to your desired project.

Additional things that you can do from your web profile:

  • Edit your “About” section. This is part of your Social Profile and not viewable through the mobile application.
  • View the user’s operating system. Under Personal Profile, you can check which OS a user currently has. This can be useful for troubleshooting.
  • Reset your password. Under Account Settings, you can click the blue button to send password reset instructions to your email. This can be used to reset passwords for study participants.

Sensor integrations: Misfit

One of the first integrations that we established for our pilot researchers was for the Misfit Flash. Using the Misfit Cloud API, NUCoach is able to access data collected by the Misfit device (transmitted via the Misfit mobile app) by communicating with the Misfit database. We are able to access information like steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep. In order for us to collect this information, the user must open up the Misfit device at least once per day, preferably at the end of each day so we can access the most accurate summary data.

To set up a participant with Misfit:

  1. Before you start: (a) make sure Bluetooth is turned on; (b) bring extra Misfit devices and batteries; (c) if you have more than one Misfit device with you, remove the batteries from the devices that you are not currently using.
  2. Download the Misfit and NUCoach mobile apps on the participant’s smart phone.
  3. Create a Misfit account for the participant (either on the mobile app or via a web browser). We often provide the user with a new email address so they will not receive marketing emails from Misfit, but any valid email address will work. Make sure to note the username and password–you will need this later.
  4. Link the Misfit device with the Misfit mobile app by following the instructions in the app. It will ask you to select the appropriate device; then it will scan the immediate area to find the device via Bluetooth signal. Once the app has found the device, select that device option in the app to continue the linking process. The device will light up when syncing is successful.
  5. Create a NUCoach account for the participant. (See here for instructions.)
  6. Send the NUCoach username to the project manager so that s/he can add the participant to the correct project and set up an Action Plan (if needed).
  7. Once the participant has been added to the project, the project will become available in the participant’s NUCoach app. Select the available project in the app to continue. This will bring you to the home page (the default home page is an analog clock; this will depend on the project).
  8. Click Profile in the upper right corner. This will direct you to User Preferences.
  9. Make sure that the mobile number located in User Preferences is the participant’s correct mobile number.
  10. Scroll down to Sensor Connections. You will see several sensors available for connection.
  11. Select Misfit, then press Link. This will open the Misfit login page in the native browser on the participant’s phone.
  12. Enter the email and password created in Step 2 and click Sign In. This will take you to another page in the browser to confirm the Misfit’s connection with DeepHealth, the database behind NUCoach. IMPORTANT: The phone may ask how you want to open the following page. Select the browser option and “Just Once.”
  13. If you have successfully linked, you will see this message in the browser: “Successfully linked your Misfit account. You may close this window.” Additionally, the participant will receive a text message from NUCoach confirming the connection.
  14. Ask a coach on the project to set up a sample message that includes a link to NUCoach. Once the message is received (via text), click on the link. As in step 10, the phone may ask how you want to open the link. This time, select NUCoach and “Always.” This will make sure that the user is able to interact with NUCoach as intended.

Troubleshooting:

The Misfit device won’t sync with the Misfit app.

  • Turn Bluetooth off and back on.
  • Replace the battery in the Misfit that you are trying to link.
  • Use a different Misfit device.
  • Restart the phone.
  • Uninstall and reinstall the Misfit application.

NUCoach text message links are opening in a browser instead of NUCoach. (This happens most often in Android devices; The instructions below are general and will be slightly different depending on the specific device.)

  • Find the Settings icon on the user’s phone.
  • Go to Applications (or Apps) and find NUCoach.
  • Find “Open by default” or similar option.
  • The options within “Open by default” will ask how you want to open hyperlinks that trigger NUCoach to open. Select “Open in app” and “Always.”

To disconnect from Misfit:

  1. Open the NUCoach application
  2. Click Profile in the upper right corner. This will direct you to User Preferences.
  3. Scroll down to Sensor Connections. You will see several sensors available for connection.
  4. Select Misfit, then press Unlink. This will prevent our system from collecting Misfit data and sending you additional text messages reminding you to sync.

Sensor and other integrations

The NUCoach platform is very flexible and customizable. Developers can create new modules and integrations through our selection of application program interfaces, or APIs, that allow access to data collected in NUCoach and stored in our database on DeepHealth Lab.

Wait, what is DeepHealth Lab?

DeepHealth Lab is the engine that runs NUCoach. This site connects to an SSL-secured database hosted by DigitalOcean Cloud services. Using this platform, researchers can access raw participant data that is secured using a robust access level management system. DeepHealth Lab’s API  allows for easy integration with outside sensors and services.

Current integrations

Twilio is a cloud communications platform company that allows software developers to programmatically make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages using its web service APIs. We use Twilio to prompt individuals to complete various coaching tasks at that time. Twilio allows us to insert a link that directly opens our NUCoach mobile app (this function in iOS only).

Wearable sensors, such as Microsoft Band 2, Empatica E4, Misfit devices, Emfit QS,  and Firstbeat Bodyguard 2 (ECG). Using mobile companion applications (for MS Band 2 and Misfit) or simple drag-and-drop upload tools (for E4 and Firstbeat), DeepHealth Lab will automatically convert sensor data into standard MySQL format before storing in our database. These will be described in more detail in a later post.

Helpful links

Download the app

The NUCoach mobile app serves multiple functions. It is the primary interface for client users and facilitates activities like:

  • Delivery of surveys and ecological momentary assessments
  • Delivery of project-related content (e.g. short articles on developing healthy habits)
  • Collecting data from personal devices like Misfit, Fitbit, and Emfit
  • Real-time communication with coaches
  • Access to technical assistance

The main use for coaches in the real-time chat with clients and other coaches. These “chats” pop up on your phone just like a text message or notification, making communication among project teammates simple and seamless.

Our app is available on both the Apple App and Android Play stores. Just look for the heart icon!

Key Features

Here are some of the key features available on NUCoach:

  • Action Plans are collections of activities assigned to a Client by a Coach. Types of activities include:
    • Scheduled surveys
    • Triggered surveys (in beta)
    • To-do lists
    • Photo taking/upload
  • Activity monitoring allows Coaches to see which activities their Clients have completed and which ones they have missed
  • Scheduled reminders deliver semi-tailored messages of encouragement and reinforcement to Clients on behalf of their Coaches
  • Integrating streaming sensors and real-time data analysis (in beta) allow Coaches to amass large amounts of information on their Clients that will help Coaches better customize their approach to each Client. This may also help Coaches get in touch with Clients if problems are detected.
  • Conditional messaging that allows relevant feedback to be personalized and automated based on data collected from integrated wearable sensors.
  • Duplicating Action Plans and Reminder schedules (in beta) allow Coaches to easily copy existing complex Action Plans for other Clients as well as shift the start date and time to account for rolling enrollment
  • Chat and activity logging among Coaches allows for real time coaching collaboration
  • Real time chat between Coaches and Clients gives Client better access to their Coaches at the most convenient time for the Client
  • Unidirectional custom text messages to Clients (initiated by Coaches) and a log of these messages gives Coaches a simple, web-based method of sending text messages to their Clients whenever needed and without looking up phone numbers or email addresses

We are building new features every day, including ways to monitor and download Client data.