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.

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.