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The company uses AI and emotional intelligence to adapt recommendations for chronically ill patients
Even before COVID, there was a growing trend toward empowering patients with devices and apps to manage their own health. No longer would you have to wait to see a doctor if someone was wrong; instead, your FitBit or Apple Watch could tell you right away. That, of course, only ramped up over the last 18 months, and there's now billions being invested in pharmaceuticals, digital therapeutics, devices, wearables, and services so that patients can take a more active role in managing their care.
While many would agree that that's a good development, and that it improves outcomes for patients, it's also comes with its own challenges and issues.
One problem is that remote health requires more of the patient, and it can only be truly effective when patients "actually do what they need to do to comply with their health programs," said Yoni Nevo, CEO of Sweetch, a platform that provides personalized recommendations for patients with chronic conditions, including cardio-metabolic diseases and autoimmune disorders.
"The rapidly evolving remote health era is missing this critical component: effective, continuous relationships between health ecosystem players and all the individuals they serve, every step of the way through their unique journeys," he said.
That's the gap that Sweetch is looking to fill by using artificial and emotional intelligence to create a "hyper-personalized engagement platform." And now the company has a new round of funding to built out its engine, having announced a $20 million Series A round of funding on Monday, led by Entrée Capital, along with Tal Capital, Noaber, Kortex Ventures, and FinTLV Ventures, as well as existing investors Philips, OurCrowd and Qure Ventures.
Founded in 2013, the Israeli company uses an engine called JITAI, or "just-in-time adaptive intervention," to convert millions of data points, taken from smartphones, other connected devices, and user interactions with Sweetch, to automatically adapt to each individual’s personality and behavior.
The technology can identify each individual's compliance patterns, so it can adapt recommendations to cater specifically to them, delivering them in the right tone, time, and real-world context, so they are more likely to adhere to their health program.
"Sweetch creates meaningful and sustainable impacts on patient compliance, holistically across multiple dimensions of their chronic condition and their co-morbidities, achieving long-lasting health outcomes and improved healthcare economics," said Nevo.
The company's customers are pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, payers, and healthcare providers. For example, the company works with pharma companies to promote their drugs and medical devices; the company provide a "digital molecule" that is meant to drive medication adherence, increase the effectiveness of medical treatment, and then collect data, with the end goal of improving health outcomes and reducing costs for payers.
The company is currently in the process of building a calculator that will show how adherence to treatment programs, including physical activity, weight management, nutrition, and medications, can affect health outcomes and spending.
Sweetch's platform has already been used in at least one clinical trial, conducted at Johns Hopkins University's Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. The study was meant to determine if the Sweetch app worked in combination with a digital body weight scale in adults with prediabetes. The results showed that the app was able to achieve 86 percent retention and that improved clinical outcomes for patients with early-stage diabetes, including lowering HbA1c levels.
With this new round of funding, Sweetch has now raised a total of $30 million, and it plans to use the money to continue expanding globally.
The company is currently focused on North America; certain markets in Europe, "which are advanced relative to others in their reimbursement policies," said Nevo; as well as certain countries in Latin America, which have "a very high percentage of patients with chronic conditions that can only be addressed by fully automated and scalable solutions such as Sweetch’s."
It will also be used to expand its AI and EI technology to address more chronic conditions.
"We believe that healthtech will enable the provision of more and more scalable solutions to address key issues that affect both the lives of individuals, as well as the main pain points of the healthcare ecosystem," Nevo told me.
"We address chronic conditions at scale in a remote health era - enabling health ecosystem players to build continuous relationships with every individual with chronic conditions, empowering them to achieve their micro-goals every step of their health journey using Sweetch’s hyper-personalized engagement platform."
(Image source: sweetch.com)
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