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Hello Heart pushes into crowded diabetes management space with LifeScan deal

Redwood City, California-based hypertension management startup Hello Heart has made a stronger push into the diabetes management space  – populated by companies like Omada Health and Livongo – through a partnership with leading diagnostics company LifeScan.

Through the collaboration, Hello Heart will offer its customers LifeScan’s OneTouch line of connected glucose monitors and test strips which can upload results automatically onto the company’s platform.

According data provided by the company, Hello Heart has more than 90,000 patients enrolled on the platform, which includes hypertension management and an associated connected blood pressure monitor.

The deal builds on an earlier feature expansion last year which allowed diabetic users to log their blood sugar levels and receive app-based suggestions about how to improve their health.

The new deal with LifeScan expands the service offering to the company’s commercial employer clients who sponsor the Hello Heart program and devices for their workforce. Hello Heart was founded in 2013 and has raised more than $12 million in funding over its history.

Hello Heart CEO Maayan Cohen said the idea behind bringing on OneTouch as a partner was to provide the number one selling glucose meter and ease the transition for users coming onto the company’s mobile platform. She added that the device is also portable, making consistent use more likely.

“(Users) can now manage diabetes and hypertension from one app and get a holistic view of their health,” Cohen said. “The wellness tips are also adjusted for hypertension and diabetes and they can really understand where they stand.”

The news comes as companies across the chronic care management space (who predominantly sell to employers) continue their efforts to broaden out their platforms into new conditions to create a one-sized fits all offering for their workforce.

Omada and Livongo both have branched out into hypertension in recent months and now offer connected blood pressure monitors along with their health coaching services. Both companies have also tacked on behavioral health features as part of their strategy.

Cohen said Hello Heart also has plans to expand into behavioral health conditions like depression and anxiety.

But if everyone is playing in the same sandbox, doesn’t that lead to more losers in chronic disease management?

“The answer is yes and no. In every market in healthcare there’s no winner-take-all. It’s only natural that when we validated in hypertension we were going to have competitors enter the category” Cohen said. “We’re going into diabetes which is a very saturated category, but in this market it’s less about which features you’re going to have and more about your outcomes.”

Where Hello Heart’s approach differs from competitors like Omada, Livongo or Vida Health, which also work in the diabetes and hypertension space is through its software-only offerings.

Cohen said her business thesis is based on the idea that most people don’t actually want to use an in-person coach because of the fear of judgement and shame. She says that the company’s 45 percent enrollment rates among patients with hypertension are a testament to that theory.

“It’s easy, there’s no commitment and we guarantee that nobody is going to see your data except for you,” Cohen said.

Three years into the program, Cohen said that 60 percent of those initial enrollees still engage with the app.

Instead of relying on physical health coaches as a key part of the process, Hello Heart offers wellness tips and healthy behavior change suggestions like dietary changes and ways to increase physical activity.

Cohen said the team’s designers and behavioral psychologists focus on how to apply high level health recommendations into daily life i.e. parking your car farther away from work program more physical activity into your routine.

“This is something people can do in their day-to-day, but it’s not something your doctor can tell you because they don’t have the time to break down high level recommendations into day to day adjustments,” Cohen said.

She drew an analogy from the movement away from a physical health coach towards software to what happened in the banking industry.

“Twenty years ago we used to call the bank to check your balance, who would think about doing that today?” Cohen said. “The human touch is important when things are serious, but we don’t need a coach to tell us to eat broccoli if we can do it in an app.”

Picture: noipornpan, Getty Images

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