Health2047, a technology innovation enterprise backed the American Medical Association, announced today the launch of its second spin out company. Called First Mile Care, the new entity will use its $2 million in seed funding to build a scalable platform for connecting people with prediabetes to coaches and demographic-appropriate behavior change guidance.
First Mile Care’s platform is being developed on the framework of the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, a coaching-based lifestyle change program long shown to reduce the risk of prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes progression.
By pulling zip code-specific demographic data, users are matched with coaches that can consider potential social and geographic determinants of health when counseling a patient. With this information, the 16-week program looks to help individuals self educate, develop personalized action plans, and adopt small but meaningful changes in behaviors that could prevent a long and costly chronic condition.
“The majority of the spending in the healthcare system is for chronic disease, and the real question is how we can confront that,” Karl P. Ronn, founder and CEO of First Mile Care and the former GM of new business healthcare at Procter & Gamble, told MobiHealthNews. “Today we spend $327 billion a year for the 30 million people who have Type 2 diabetes, and there’s 84 million people who live with prediabetes, where their blood sugars are above what they should be. … We put together First Mile Care to help as many of those 84 million people as possible, and that enormous expense as well.”
Pulling from his background in the consumer health industry, Ronn stressed the long-term impact low costs and convenience can have on a product’s stickiness. While the approach is enabled by a technology platform able to intelligently match coaches to users, Ronn stressed that the company isn’t just implementing the technology for its novelty.
“This is really empathy first, and then supported by technology,” he said. “I have an Apple Watch, I like that it does certain things for me, but we don’t get behavior change by sending people [automated] messages. We need to be with them and help them understand what they need to do, and help them develop their action plan to conceivable change for life. What we can do with our platform is take that learning and share it — to make sure coaches are doing best practices, and see that people are making progress, and then use the platform to get the information back to their doctor.”
First Mile is targeting scalability to keep costs low enough for health plans to cover, and seems to be leveraging its relationship with Health 2047 (and subsequently the AMA) in its platform and intervention design. The end goal of this strategy, Ronn said, is to reach the point where physicians can confidently recommend the service to their patients.
The AMA has been working alongside the CDC on primary care physicians, getting them ready to recommend this kind of program,” he said. “The doctors want to recommend it. The problem is if you went to your doctor today and requested [DPP], they can’t recommend it unless it’s available. … Our job is to make it available.”
Ronn’s startup is the second Health2047 spin out, after the health data liquidity-focused Akiri. Earlier this year Health2047 announced a $27.2 million follow-on investment from the AMA, which the enterprise said at the time would go toward development and commercialization of products targeting chronic disease reduction, among other focuses.
“Health2047 is committed to developing system-level solutions to healthcare’s biggest challenges,” Lawrence Cohen, CEO of Health2047. “With 84 million Americans diagnosed as living with prediabetes, our spin out of First Mile Care is a critical step toward transforming chronic care and saving the US healthcare industry trillions of dollars.”