Health IT

App that identifies recipes by vitamin content, gaming dishes by taste and health among codeathon winners

What if you could find a recipe based on a vitamin or avoid ones that contained a particular ingredient? Or a website that could produce healthy substitutes for fattening food options that actually taste good? Those were a couple of the pain points tackled by university students and professionals who gathered at a Philadelphia university […]

What if you could find a recipe based on a vitamin or avoid ones that contained a particular ingredient? Or a website that could produce healthy substitutes for fattening food options that actually taste good?

Those were a couple of the pain points tackled by university students and professionals who gathered at a Philadelphia university over the weekend to flex their programming muscles for a health care codeathon.

The first annual Philly Health Codefest put on by Drexel University’s College of Information Science and Technology or “iSchool” produced 11 teams that demonstrated their health care solutions after an intense weekend of brainstorming and programming. It was organized by Drexel students Dias Gotama and Abhiroop Das.

“Our goal is to bring together people from the Philadelphia startup community to Drexel’s iSchool,” said Das.

Healthify.me, the grand prize winner, developed a website to help users find healthy replacements for the unhealthy foods that are actually tasty using a data-driven, crowd-sourced approach. Brothers Jack Giammattei and Charlie Giammattei with Joe Francia put together the website. It also won $5,000 worth of legal services from Morgan Lewis.

“The idea behind it is we all like to eat unhealthy foods and there are very good substitutes for these foods,” said Charlie, pointing out the Eat This Not That series  as a well-known example. He explained that the team assembled a website that can help people submit foods they want to improve — a process the team referred to as “healthifying” it.

Each meal generates a “health score,” based on its redeeming nutritional qualities, and a “crave rating”  — a food that satisfies users’ craving for tasty food that’s posted. Its formula combines these two factors and comes up with a ranking.  The idea is that users will select the tastiest, healthiest options and make better choices. It counts the calories its users save with those options and converts it into pounds, showing it in real time.

Vitamin.ME , which came in second, developed an Android app and a back-end application programming interface to allows users to do a recipe search based on the nutrients they want — for example, a high-protein low-fat meal. The search results show pictures, ingredients and how to make the meal. The cloud does the number crunching.

Mayank Gureja, a student, explained how the team put together the app.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced is that there is no current API that we can use to get nutrients and recipes so we had to tackle that problem by getting the USFDA’s data database files — it has half a million food items and tells you what nutrients to have. So when the user gives us nutrients we use that database to get potential ingredients that have the nutrients the users are looking for. Then we used those ingredients to query several published APIs that have recipes — because there are several APIs that list recipes by ingredients but none by vitamins so we sort of bridged that gap.”

In addition to Gureja, the team includes Ayush Sobti, Anthony Hurst and Matthew Coppola. The next step is to add the app to make it more useful to end user before it’s added to Google’s app store. In addition to the $3,000 it received for second place, the team also got recognition for the best mobile solution and people’s choice award, among other prizes.

Among other participants were Hospital Query, led by Temple University professor Jose Plehn-Dujowich, a business-to-business website designed to help service providers evaluate providers compared with other healthcare facilities in their peer group in a particular town or city based on re-admissions, patient outcomes and patient satisfaction, among other criteria. Brad White, a student, developed technology to spot discrepancies in billing documents from insurance companies and medical providers. The idea is to make it easier to reconcile documents from the two groups to avoid overpayment by patients and other issues.

[Featured Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos user renjith krishnan]