With an eye on prevention, chronic care management startup Lark Health revealed exclusively to MobiHealthNews that it is launching a new AI-enabled program targeted at keeping at-risk patients healthy.
Dubbed Lark Prevention, the tool was created to help guide Lark Health's members through behavioral coaching to address weight management, smoking cessation, stress and overall general health. Members can select an area of focus — for example, smoking cessation — and once that program is completed can select a second area to address.
“I think that the world is really struggling with a chronic disease epidemic, and this is the fight of our generation,” Julia Hu, CEO of Lark, told MobiHealthNews. “The healthcare system is so great at acute disease and infectious disease, but it is not set up in the way that is required for 24-7 chronic care [patients] or folks at high risk. So, in order for the epidemic to be solved I think you have to move upstream and look at behavioral health changes that can prevent these tough conditions that can last the rest of your life.”
Like Lark Health’s other coaching services, the program allows users to text the service at any time of day. Members can be guided through behavioral coaching via AI interactions, which Hu said allows the technology to be scalable.
She said this particular program was inspired by the lack of prevention tools for people at risk for chronic conditions.
“What we have found is there was a gap between wellness programs — i.e., fitness, Fitbit — and the chronic disease and condition management programs,” Hu said. “The at-risk population we want to engage earlier … these are the folks that have been struggling with stress or weight gain, and they try on their own, and for whatever reason it fails because they don’t have enough of a support system or trained support. If we can teach these people self-efficacy tools and how to change habits, we can empower them to stick with and engage with a program throughout their life. This is a behavioral health issue.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Two-thirds of adults in the US are categorized as overweight or obese, according to the CDC. Individuals with obesity are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
In fact, according to the agency, 33.9% of US adults over the age of 18 have prediabetes — and that number skyrockets to 48.3% of adults over 65. However, most people who are in this category do not know it.
THE LARGER TREND
Founded in 2011, Lark Health is best known for its chronic disease management offerings. However, it started its prevention efforts nearly a year ago with the rollout of its AI-based program, called Lark Diabetes Prevention.
But that isn’t the only focus of the company. Last year it inked a deal with 23andMe on a new initiative that integrates a user’s 23andMe genetic information into Lark’s Wellness Program and Diabetes Prevention Program. The idea was that Lark’s AI weight loss and wellness coach would be able to access a user’s genetic information to personalize strategies for losing weight.
The industry is seeing more and more prevention-focused tools cropping up. In August LifeOmic, maker of a provider-facing data integration app, announced a new platform called LIFE Extend that's designed to help patients prevent chronic disease associated with aging.
ON THE RECORD
“Because we are so focused on using conversational AI to scale chronic disease management, we are able to pass on the savings to our partners and deliver care that has the same clinical outcomes, that has the best in the market, and it is a solid drop and thousands of dollars of savings for our healthcare providers," Hu said. "So, to me, financial accessibility is just as important of scalability, and can help the market and people."