Vida Health unveils machine learning behavior tool, Sleep Health coaching program

Each new offering was designed to support consumers and members managing chronic disease, CEO Stephanie Tilenius said.
By Dave Muoio
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Over the last week, San Francisco-based Vida Health’s consumer and member digital health coaching programs have seen the rollout of a personalized behavior recommendation and reminder tool powered by machine learning. In addition, the company is announcing later today a new coaching program focused on healthy sleeping, both as a standalone offering and as a module supporting its other services for managing chronic diseases.

The former, called Habits, offers users daily, weekly and monthly behavior suggestions that can help address the user’s personal health goals. While these can be set and adjusted by the individual or their human coach, Habits’ algorithms collect and employ user data to fine-tune each suggestion on a person-to-person basis, as well as to better understand what kinds of goals might work best for others.

“The machine learning does a lot of heavy lifting, curating the Habits and creating the database on the back end,” Stephanie Tilenius, founder and CEO of Vida Health, told MobiHealthNews. “We have all these users who are continually learning from their experiences and the health coaches are also able to make Habits, so we’re constantly looking at what are the Habits that are enabling our communities to succeed in managing their conditions, and then surfacing that to new users.”

Habits has been deployed within each of Vida’s chronic health coaching programs, the newest among which is Sleep Health. The eight-week offering’s cognitive behavioral therapy design is similar to Vida’s depression and anxiety programs, Tilenius said, and comes bundled with a Fitbit to help users accurately track the duration and quality of their nightly sleep or other health-related behaviors. Within the platform, users will be served content instructing them on effective wind-down routines, screen time management and other relevant strategies. Additionally, health coaches within Vida’s network will be specifically paired to the sleep program for sessions with users.

Individual consumers and plans can enroll in the Sleep Health program as a singular offering, or include it as another component of Vida’s broader enterprise platform. For Tilenius, who noted that she has been using the program herself, the latter option is particularly relevant when considering the role sleep has to play in holistic health management.

“Sleep is a pervasive issue, and it’s underlying a lot of the deep-rooted chronic physical and mental health conditions,” she said. “We are constantly looking to our customers for guidance on where we can help, and sleep is just vital to managing every chronic physical and mental health conditions, [so] we thought it was important to add in as a program itself.”

What’s the impact

Beyond its impact on other conditions, Tilenius stressed the substantial economic losses attributed to sleep deprivation, which she said can be found among a third of adults.

“The U.S. by far has the highest economic losses due to sleep — it’s like a $400 billion issue. It’s a bit of an epidemic,” she said.

Daily behaviors can play a key role in limiting this and other areas of an individual’s health, she said, but can be hard to make stick. Personalizing behavior interventions with user-generated data and machine learning is Vida’s strategy to promote lasting change.

“[Habits] brings together the power of the machine and the human to personalize the experience,” Tilenius said. “Lifestyle choices have an outside impact on the development of chronic disease in our country. And given the spend, nearly 86 percent of healthcare spend on a chronic disease, we really need to take a measured approach to managing habits. So that’s why we launched the Habits program.”

What’s the trend

Vida’s view of both Sleep Health and Habits as tools for broader chronic condition management is of little surprise — the company revamped its platform nearly a year ago to better tackle the comorbidities present among these populations.

But digital disease management and coaching come in a number of shapes and sizes, and Vida is hardly short on competition. Livongo, Omada Health and Twine Health (acquired by Fitbit last year) have each employed a combination of data analysis, behavior interventions and connected devices to drive healthier habits among patients with lasting conditions. And all these companies have been expanding the roster of conditions they address.

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