Agile Health expands into diabetes management

By Neil Versel

Diabetes iPhone Messages BG Day 2 ExamplesMobile health interventions developer Agile Health is moving beyond its roots in smoking cessation by releasing myAgileLife, a text messaging-based program to help people learn behavioral skills to manage type 2 diabetes.

myAgileLife, the first product Nashville, Tenn.-based Agile Health has commercialized on a messaging platform acquired last year from the University of Southern California, provides patients with personalized messages of support and guidance to help them control hemoglobin A1C. The system was created by two emergency physicians at USC's Los Angeles County Hospital, and is meant to end the "revolving door" of diabetes patients repeatedly showing up in the ER or needing hospital admission, according to Agile Health CEO Gary Slagle.

The company's "bread and butter," according to Slagle, is daily skill building to help people manage diseases, with text messaging as the delivery mechanism.

USC researchers published results of a three-week pilot in the June 2012 issue of the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, reporting "excellent satisfaction and modest improvement in self-care behaviors" in that short time frame for low-income patients with type 2 diabetes.

They have since completed a six-month randomized control trial. "[Participants] actually performed outstandingly in terms of reduction of HbA1C," Slagle told MobiHealthNews. Those who followed the myAgileLife messages and made necessary lifestyle changes were less likely than others to return to the hospital, he added.

Slagle said to expect the expanded results published in a medical journal in the next 4-6 weeks. He did not elaborate.

Agile Health, which raised $2 million in private equity a year ago to build out the diabetes program, is planning on migrating its original "Kick Buts" smoking cessation program to the USC-developed platform, called Sherpa. Agile acquired the technology for Kick Buts from New Zealand-based HSAGlobal, which ran a successful clinical trial in Britain, detailed in The Lancet in 2011. Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Agile Health as a Rock Health graduate.

Early clients for myAgileLife include employers and population health management companies, according to Slagle. He said there has been interest from some hospitals looking to incorporate behavioral change into their patient-centered medical homes.