At Medgadget, we love when our very own staff head off to change medicine, and we were delighted to hear that our former editor Sean Duffy’s startup Omada Health has just closed a $23 million round in venture financing led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Kaiser Permanente Ventures. This is the first significant health care investment from one of Silicon Valley’s top technology venture firms.
Omada Health’s vision is to build the first, multi-platform digital therapeutics company through a series of digital health programs based on landmark behavioral science. Their first program, Prevent, which we’ve covered before, helps people with prediabetes lose weight and make meaningful lifestyle changes. Their program is based off a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). This study involved more than 3,000 patients and demonstrated that modest weight loss (5-7% of body weight) through an intensive lifestyle program reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. The CDC is working to accelerate adoption of these programs in the form of their National Diabetes Prevention Program.
We caught up with Sean to discuss the fundraise and how it will accelerate their growth.
Medgadget: Firstly, could you quickly describe the mission for your company?
Sean Duffy: Omada Health’s aim is to bring well-researched and well-trusted behavioral science to the masses through the best in design and technology. We’re calling this digital therapeutics. A lot of what is shown to work in the behavioral science world relies on face-to-face interactions. Our belief is that broad adoption of web and mobile allows for a transformational shift how these interventions will be deployed. The sorts of rich, engaging interactions you can create through technology are the exact thing behavioral science has been waiting for in order to reach its tipping point. We plan to build a number of programs designed toward specific clinical aims.
Medgadget: We’ve covered Prevent before, so what has been new over the last year?
Sean: A lot has happened. It has been a very exciting year. Firstly, the shifts in the healthcare ecosystem thanks to the Affordable Care Act have created an environment that is actually quite open to innovation. A lot of the stakeholders in enterprise health, be it employers, providers, or plans are thinking about their place in the market, what the future might hold for them, and how they have to adapt to stay relevant. This sort of mindset has really enabled us to have quicker and more meaningful conversations with some of the bigger stakeholders out there.
Also, the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention program is gaining steam. People at risk for type 2 diabetes can now attend a face-to-face program in almost every single state. And the best part is that it is still early days here. We see no signs of this slowing down. I believe I’ve brought this up with Medgadet before, but there is even a bill in the house and senate asking Medicare to include DPP as part of their covered benefits. As an online provider of DPP, we’re feeling a lot of this momentum first hand.
Medgadget: What do you plan to do with the new money?
Sean: This fundraise gives us sufficient capital to do a few things. The first is to double-down on our Prevent program. We want to make sure that every time someone is thinking about launching a DPP-based effort, we’re there to help support it. This requires scaling up our commercial teams, account management teams, operations teams, and more. Secondly, this capital allows us to plan and begin executing on our product roadmap. We believe that we can continue to build a stellar design and engineering organization that will create all sorts of digital experiences relevant to behavior change. Our Prevent program is just the first step in our journey here and we’re already working with our early commercial partners to understand what else they might need for their populations.
Medgadget: Anything else you want to share?
Sean: We’re hiring! If you’re interested in joining our team, take a look at our open positions on http://omadahealth.com. We’re always keen to hear from technologies who want to make an impact in healthcare, as well as a health care aficionados interested in technology and design.