Coaching app Vida helped 58 percent of a UnitedHealthcare cohort lose weight

By Jonah Comstock
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In a deployment with UnitedHealthcare, health coaching startup Vida was able to reduce weight and blood pressure in a group of 1,000 high-BMI patients across three states, the company told MobiHealthNews.

"Over 58 percent of the population has seen weight loss and over 30 percent have lost more than 5 percent of their body weight, which is clinically significant," Vida CEO and Founder Stephanie Tilenius told MobiHealthNews. "That’s in under five months that we’ve seen those results."

Furthermore, at the start of the five months, 31 percent of the group had systolic blood pressure over 140. The coaching reduced that to 11 percent. Just 15 percent had a blood pressure under 120 at the start of the intervention and by the end  Vida increased that number to 32 percent.

Vida, which raised $5 million in October 2014 and has now raised more than $10 million according to Tilenius, offers health and wellness coaching, both direct to consumer in some cases and, in others, via providers, payers, self-insured employers, and even, in one case, through a pharma company. Vida created a program within its app last year for AstraZeneca. Provider partners include Duke University, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Stanford Universirt. Employers include eBay, furniture company SteelCase, and boat supply chain West Marine.

The company's direct-to-consumer option is $59 a month, with discounts available for prepaying three months or a year.

Tilenius said the coaching, which helps users manage their particular chronic conditions as well as basic wellness, tends to get impressive engagement and adoption numbers, something she attributes to the platform's ease of use across multiple communication modalities.

"You know, people are very comfortable with Facebook [messenger] and [Apple] Facetime and we have the equivalent of Facebook messenger and Facetime built into a HIPAA compliant app. They have a coach who’s holding them accountable, they have a personalized health plan, and they’re achieving outcomes...Sometimes text, audio, video, that flexibility makes it easier for people. They can do it when they’re on the go, they can integrate it into their life."

The program is also designed so patients who are dealing with multiple conditions can get support from multiple coaches.

"When you look at some of these customers and the amount of data they’re sharing with a coach, it’s really wild," she said. "It’s a completely different relationship. It’s trusted, they know the coach has their back, and if they have comorbidities we can bring in someone who can handle that condition. For example, if you have diabetes and depression or Crohn’s we’ll bring somebody in who works in that area. So they really feel like they’re getting top-tier treatment and it’s also a comfortable discussion."

Tilenius also said the company has seen a surprisingly high level of interest from health professionals in becoming coaches. Fifty percent of the coaches Vida employs are now full time rather than part time, and they have more coaches interested than the platform can accomodate. Tilenius said the company is working on developing some new features.

"What I’m comfortable saying is we’re going to be layering in a lot of data science, doing even more personalized management of our client base and really getting into optimizing their health and managing their comorbidities," she said. "We have some interesting features coming out. I can’t go into too many details, but you’re going to see a lot from us in the last six months."