Diabetes Hands Foundation’s Manny Hernandez Moves to Lead Member Experience at Livongo Health
By Adam Brown
Diabetes advocate Manny Hernandez has joined Livongo Health’s leadership team as Senior VP, Member Experience following his longtime position as President of the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF). In his new role, he will focus on the patient experience of using Livongo’s 2-way cellular-enabled meter/web platform, as well as relationships with employers, manufacturers, and advocacy partners. Manny brings seven years of strong leadership expertise from DHF to Livongo Health, as well as 13 years of personal experience living with type 1 diabetes. We feel lucky to have had the opportunity to speak with Manny about multiple elements of his new role – see more on our discussion below.
As part of the interview, we learned that Livongo plans to roll out a consumer version of its system by late 2015 that would allow patients to purchase the Livongo system directly – previously, it was only available for purchase through insurers and employers. We're very happy to see this direct consumer model. The entire platform (including the meter, web platform, access to a remote care team of educators, and unlimited strips) is expected to be available at a cost of approximately $60/month. We believe this could help address a huge unmet need for many patients who are severely limited in the number of test strips they can use.
Livongo For Diabetes was released last fall and includes a cellular-enabled, color touchscreen meter that immediately sends blood glucose readings to a web-based platform. A software algorithm then uses the data to send immediate feedback to the user, which appears directly on the meter’s screen. Users can set up notifications, allowing loved ones to be notified via text message/email when out-of-range glucose readings occur – a major advantage for parents in particular. The Livongo platform also provides users with a “remote care team,” a group of on-call diabetes educators whose role is to provide support to patients and intervene if blood glucose data requires attention. This team can reportedly respond to patients within 60 seconds. Livongo For Diabetes is the first online diabetes-tech-based program that has received Diabetes Education Accreditation Program approval from AADE – this is a big deal and we hope other companies emulate this pioneering move. For now, this is one of the two accredited programs that some private payer plans and Medicare require for reimbursement. In testing out the Livongo Meter, we were impressed with the highly responsive touchscreen, seamless data upload and notification system, and real-time educational feedback.
Interview with Manny Hernandez
ADAM: What is the single biggest learning you will bring from the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) to Livongo?
MANNY: The years at the helm of DHF gave me a humbling sense of how challenging diabetes can be, and how critical it is that the person living with it (and their loved ones) remain at the center of it, if we are to have any chance to tackling this epidemic.
ADAM: What most excites you about joining Livongo?
MANNY: I am hopeful about the ability to continue to make a difference in the lives of people touched by diabetes. Livongo has a lot of the qualities that I was hoping for in this next chapter in my life: being able to stay in diabetes where so much needs to be done, having peers from whom I can learn so much and with whom I can partner to do great things for the community, and doing all of this in a very nimble start-up environment.
ADAM: What is Livongo’s biggest area of opportunity?
MANNY: The challenge for Livongo and everyone in the field is that diabetes is not a simple problem to solve. It is truly multi-dimensional. Livongo is aware of this, and to help tackle it, Glen Tullman [Livongo Health’s CEO] has put together an incredibly talented group of people. It will be very important to continue to hire smart people to help face the challenge, and it will be just as critical to recognize the areas where it makes more sense to partner with others to bring the best member experience (and, consequently, the best possible outcomes).
ADAM: What type of patient is Livongo best suited for?
MANNY: This may sound too broad, but I truly believe that every person with diabetes can benefit from the Livongo experience. This morning, as I was testing before hitting the road, it occurred to me how powerful it was to be able to test and ON-THE-SPOT have my blood glucose go to the cloud, and access to tailored diabetes coaching in response to it. It’s truly Diabetes Education On-Demand. We patients with diabetes can all use that: people with type 1, type 2, on insulin or not.