New App: Diabetes Patients Gamble to Improve Health

Set to release later this month, a new app —Bushytail Health— is aiming to improve the lifestyles of those suffering from diabetes. 


Gambling For Your Health

Developed by two anesthesiologists at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Kerry DeGroot and Jason Hoefling, the app uses the concept of gambling and its natural appeal to help diabetic patients and other chronic disease patients manage their health.

Is Gambling a good motivator?

In 2014, Americans spent $119 billion on gambling. Research shows that money is the only factor clinically proven to motivate people to live healthier lives. 

What the app does

Step 1: Establish user’s A1C level (measure diabetic blood-sugar level)

Step 2: An algorithm calculates a customized target A1C level

Step 3: Uses receives confirmation email with personal goal level and a link to their “game”

Step 4: To play, users make a bet by putting money as a buy-in, bet goes into a pot with wagers from other diabetics

Step 5: The goal? Hit your target A1C level within 6 months

  • Miss it, Lose money
  • Make your goal, Get money back + a cut from any other players who lost

How to sign-up

Users can sign up via or download the mobile app (set to release later in April). 

Improving Research Around Diabetes

The goal is collect as much data as possible about the lifestyle habits and changes that may work in diabetic patients, which could lead to further research on how to prevent diabetes with healthy living habits. Their hope is to lead doctors to create a treatment algorithm for diabetic patients. This could explain why some patients become non-compliant.

Other apps do exist but Bushytail's point of differentiation is the difficulty to cheat based on its verification process. If the app succeeds, they hope to use the same concept for:

  • Chronic conditions
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Weight loss

The State of Diabetes

Globally, we are experiencing an epidemic of diabetes due to rapid increases in obesity. Total deaths are projected to rise by more than 50% in next decade.


  • TYPE 1: lack of insulin production
  • TYPE 2: results from body’s ineffective use of insulin
    • Type 2 is more common / accounts for 90% of all diabetes worldwide
    • Reports of Type 2 in children have increased worldwide

Diabetes Quick Facts

  • 29.1 million people in US have diabetes
  • 86 million people (1 in 3 adults) have prediabetes
  • In 2005, worldwide 1.1 million people died from diabetes
    • Full impact of disease is much larger
    • People live with it for years but cause of death is often heart disease or kidney failure

It's important to remember diabetes can be prevented even if you're at risk because of family history. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of Type 2.