NutriPilot: Consumers will pay to track more than calories

By Aditi Pai

NutriPilotBirmingham, Alabama-based NutriPilot, which launched in October, is expanding to offer its product to nurses and their patients and may soon enter the employee wellness space.

NutriPilot's app and website were developed by registered nutritionist Melanie Rubery as a resource for people who are interested in accessing nutritional information about food beyond calorie counts. Users can track nutrition independently or as part of a program that involves friends and coworkers.

After entering in health goals, the user can record food intake, water intake, and exercise. Every food that the user enters will be color-coded by the program so that the user knows whether they should avoid that food in the future, marked by a red compass, or whether it's a good nutritional choice, marked as a yellow or green compass depending on how healthy it is. Rubery found that when users first joined the program, they didn't realize the foods they were eating weren't actually that healthy.

"In beta testing, what we found was most people were eating almost all their foods in the yellow category, and maybe one green compass food per day," Rubery told MobiHealthNews. "It's really a great tool in helping consumers quickly know what the healthier food choice is."

The system also offers a color coded system to show whether the user's diet is aligned with certain tracks such as a gluten free diet, low sodium diet or low cholesterol. When users have loaded the app with data, they can see overall trends and tracking information that shows them how much cholesterol, sodium, and other nutrition factors they are eating. Users will soon be able to look for healthy recipes in the app as well, or add their own.

"If you have someone who is diabetic and has celiac disease, it's a really hard thing to manage," Rubery said. "And they can walk in anywhere and look at these foods that we have in our database and see what tags are gluten free and carbs free. So they walk into a Panera Bread or they walk in somewhere else, they can quickly identify what that is, because that information is not available. Calories are available, but nutritional specifics guiding users to healthier food choices is not."

NutriPilot costs $7 per month, but if users want more guidance in their program, they can sign up for NutriPilot Plus, which costs $19.99 per month and offers users talk time with a registered dietition, who they can email if they have questions. Rubery argues that while there are many free health apps on the market currently, those apps usually only look at calories.

"I think what we're seeing, and what we're going to see is a change of people really getting serious about what they eat versus how much they eat," Rubery said. "...Right now, we're in the early stage and we're growing, but I feel really great with trends and what I'm hearing from the users. I think the market has established that if you're going to count calories, it's going to be free, but the market has not shown me yet that if you want to count calories but you also want to be guided on smart and healthy eating, basically the nutritional aspects, that that's a free market."

NutriPilot launched in October 2013 and they currently have around 100 users. They have also started testing the app with around 49 nurse practitioners in Alabama. At the end of the testing, if the nurses like the app, they will start recommending it to their patients.

While Rubery says the app still wants to focus on direct to consumer, she's also speaking with an employee wellness company in her area and might look into opening up her API so that they can include NutriPilot's nutrition tracking features as well.

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