5 questions to Omada Health's CEO and co-founder Sean Duffy.
Who are you?
I’m someone who cares deeply about using technology to deliver better healthcare. Before co-founding Omada Health, I studied neuroscience as an undergrad at Columbia University, then spent two years working at Google, which fueled my passion for software. In 2009, I was accepted into the joint MD/MBA program at Harvard. A year later, while working at the design firm IDEO, I had some ideas around integrating behavioral medicine, technology, and design to create online behavioral science programs that could potentially help millions of people. In 2011, I decided to dedicate my career to bringing those ideas to life by joining forces with Adrian James and Andrew DiMichele to co-found Omada Health.
What is Omada Health?
Omada Heath is a healthcare company that specializes in a new class of medicine that is quickly becoming known as digital therapeutics. What are digital therapeutics? They’re digital programs that reliably deliver clinical outcomes. Or, put another way, they’re medical treatments that can be administered over an internet connection. Our first digital therapeutic is Prevent, a program that helps people with prediabetes make the sort of behavior changes that research shows can help avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes. Meticulously modeled after the National Institute of Health’s landmark Disease Prevention Program, which successfully reduced participant’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 58%, Prevent incorporates one-on-one health coaching, like-minded support groups, tracking tools, and an engaging, interactive curriculum to educate and motivate participants to eat right, exercise more, and lose weight. In a clinical trial, Prevent was shown to be as effective at helping individuals with prediabetes achieve their goal weight than the face-to-face program we sought to replicate.
How does a program work?
When you sign up for Prevent (at PreventNow.com), you’re matched with a health coach who will guide you through the program and address your individual needs. You’re also joined with a group of fellow-participants who act as both a cheering squad and an invaluable source of tips and strategies. We can’t over-emphasize how important these two elements of Prevent are—behavioral science makes it clear that accountability and group support play major roles in our ability to change habits. Over the course of 16-weeks, you’ll progress through an engaging curriculum that provides you with the knowledge you need to make healthier choices. At the same time, you’ll benefit from a continuous feedback loop with your health coach as you track your weight, food intake, and exercise, via tools that include a wireless scale, mobile app, and pedometer. We’ve designed Prevent to be an inviting, friendly experience that fits seamlessly into your life and is fun to use, so it never feels like a chore. Yes, it will help you avoid a life-threatening disease, but it’s also life-changing in a very positive way.
What is on the horizon for Omada Health?
We put an enormous amount of thought and care into designing the structure of Prevent, which means we have a very strong foundation upon which to build future products. Our focus will continue to be on health conditions that can be successfully treated through behavior change therapy.
How do you think digital therapeutics will impact the future of healthcare?
Because our digital therapeutics are an evolution of evidence-based traditional disease prevention programs, we are already proving that innovation in healthcare does not have to be disruptive—we can take what we already know and trust and expand on it in some amazing ways. A rapidly growing number of employers and plans are partnering with us, which I think shows that we’re ushering in a new era of healthcare. But there’s more to come. We’re looking ahead to a future where doctors regularly prescribe rich, rewarding digital therapeutics instead of, or in addition to pills, as a means to prevent and treat disease.