Harnessing Diabetes Data to Predict Your Future
diaTribe spoke with Jeff Dachis, the CEO and founder of One Drop, to learn how his diabetes diagnosis and professional background in data science and predictive modeling has helped shape his vision for One Drop and what this means for people with diabetes.
With a smartphone and a few minutes of your time, you can order a taxi to your doorstep, have your favorite food delivered directly to you, and manage your bank accounts.
We’re constantly experiencing the convenience benefits of a highly digital world in our everyday lives. So why are we still dealing with a healthcare system that is often slow, expensive, and inaccessible to most people seeking care?
“Healthcare is the only industry that hasn’t benefited from the digital transformation of the past 25 years,” said Jeff Dachis, the CEO and founder of One Drop, a leader in precision health solutions for people living with chronic conditions worldwide.
But rather than improving upon existing healthcare delivery systems, One Drop is bringing this digital transformation to its predictive health platform to deliver a highly personalized experience that addresses the social, psychological, and physical aspects of living with diabetes.
On his call with diaTribe, Dachis was interviewed by Dr. Alan Moses, the former chief medical officer for the Joslin Diabetes Clinic, former global chief medical officer for Novo Nordisk, and currently one of diaTribe’s board members. Dachis shared his views on the current healthcare system and what One Drop is doing to transform care, among other things.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Moses: How did your personal experience with diabetes inform or transform your approach to applying some of the digital space to improving care for you as an individual and everyone in your life who had diabetes?
Dachis: My story is not that unique. I lost a lot of weight and put off going to the doctor for a couple of months. I finally went in to the doctor and explained my circumstances – I got about six minutes with a nurse practitioner, an insulin pen, a glucose meter the size of a garage door, and I was out the door with type 1 diabetes. I went in with a blood sugar of 540mg/dL!
The whole experience left me terrified and afraid. Not just about what was going to happen to me or my family, but also, after I started doing homework on it… about 30+ million Americans with diabetes, potentially 100+ million with prediabetes, and almost 800 million people with diabetes worldwide. So not only was I scared for me, I was scared for everybody.
I looked at my own experience as well as the overall state of diabetes in the world, and wondered if I could use my skills and experience in digital transformation and big data analytics and marry that with the data driven condition that is diabetes, and then further than that, other chronic conditions.
And that was the inspiration behind One Drop, which was: could we get enough data on people’s bodies to be able to predict what was going to happen to them so that they could make healthy choices in real time to avoid problems before they occur?
Moses: You often speak about the 24/7/365 experience of living with diabetes and the physical, mental, and emotional toll it takes. How does that affect the way you think about what One Drop does?
Dachis: In its simplest form, One Drop is three core capability sets. The first core capability set is a mobile health platform that gives you 24/7 access to your own certified health coach.
The second is tailored educational content and programs around diabetes, prediabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, weight management, and cardiovascular prevention.
The third is data-driven predictive insights to make you understand what's going to happen to you and actionable insights on how to keep the good things happening or to avoid the bad things from happening.
Today, One Drop securely gathers health data from 1.5 million members worldwide via manual logging, connected devices, and thousands of integrations with other apps. One Drop is also developing a leading-edge biosensor platform designed to continuously capture even more health data, starting with glucose, subject to regulatory authorization.
One Drop has the only glucose predictions in the market that allow users to see their future blood glucose up to 24 hours in advance. Their machine-learning models can also generate predictions about blood pressure, weight, and A1C.
Moses: It’s great for One Drop to be able to go directly to the individual with diabetes. Could there be reluctance from the healthcare provider to support people with diabetes in a decision to pursue something that they themselves aren’t entirely on board with?
Dachis: The real issue is the all too common assumption that the physician is the one controlling the patient. I live with my diabetes 8,759 hours a year. I make choices every single day, about whether I’m going to eat something, or do a thing, or walk places, or not walk places. I’m the one who needs to be empowered to make those choices that will keep me healthy.
One Drop focuses on that person and the choices they’re going to make all of the time when they’re not at the doctor, so when they do go to the doctor, they’re coming in empowered, informed, and understanding how their actions impact what's in their bodies.
And then what you have is a relationship with your physician that is more of a partnership…We’re highlighting here that diabetes and other chronic conditions are partly medical, and then, partly life. The life part is where One Drop focuses. And we want the physicians to focus on the medical part, but together, we can really make people healthier.
Moses: For many people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, especially, who are having a hard time feeling motivated to make healthier choices – how do you motivate those people, how do you get them on board and how do you introduce One Drop to them so they think it can make a difference to them?
Dachis: I believe that if you have access to data and information about what the body is doing and actionable insights on what you can do about certain things, you’re more likely to do it. If the only time you’re getting access to that information is every six months or every year when you go to the doctor and all of that data is retrospective about all the bad choices and the results of all the potentially bad (or good) choices you already made, you’re at a huge disadvantage.
Furthermore, the two primary things that the physician is going to tell you to do in terms of diabetes care are the two things that insurance doesn’t reimburse for – eat right and exercise.
A physician tells you to eat right and exercise more – two [huge] tasks that don’t mean anything to the individual who only gets to see a physician for 15 minutes every six months. So, the information you're getting in that physician interaction is not as useful as one might think or hope that it might be.
Healthcare platforms need to think about how to bring the information closer to the decision maker. So, how do we get them engaged? We give them actionable information in real time that they can make a choice on right now. It’s not just “go exercise.” It’s, “Perhaps you should go for a walk right now, your glucose is about to go high over the next four hours.”
The bottom line
While there is still a long way to go in reaching more people who need personalized care, Dachis is optimistic about the future of healthcare.
“Just like how we barely spend time with travel agents and stock brokers, I have a feeling that in healthcare we’re about to see that same dramatic transformation in terms of people’s access to their own health information from consumerized, data-driven platforms,” he said.