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Lark Health provides a personalized health coach for patients with chronic conditions
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco Roizen speak with Julia Hu, co-founder and CEO of Lark Health, an AI-driven provider for chronic conditions. The company connects users with a 24/7 personalized health coach to help them with issues such as weight loss, diabetes, smoking cessation, and mental health.
The company recently raised a $100 million round from investors that include PFM Health Sciences, Franklin Templeton, King River Capital, Castlepeak, IPD, Olive Tree Capital, and Marvell Technology cofounder Weili Dai, bringing its total funding to $195.7 million.
Our overall goal with these podcasts is to understand how technology is radically changing healthcare: the way we screen, treat and measure progress and outcomes. How we’re empowering the consumer. Whether we’re creating productivity that drives economic costs down? And how tech advancements change the role of the doctor.
Highlights from the interview:
- Hu started Lark because of her own personal experience with having undiagnosed chronic conditions over over a decade, which only got better because she had her father and a pediatrician who became her 24/7 care team. That sparked the idea to use conversational AI and technology to scale care in a personal and compassionate way, while also making it cost effective, efficient, and clinically effective.
- Lark is an AI, text message-based counseling platform that acts like a coach in a patient's pocket. It can understand all of the patient's preferences, as well as their biometrics, including the blood pressure, glucometer readings, and weight. The company provides multiple devices to manage a patient's chronic condition and then provides real-time counseling to help the patient manage that entire condition.
- Lark has pulled in data from dozens of devices, as well as genetic data, all of the user's text messaging and interactions with the Lark coach. It now has had one million interventions.
- The company measures trust between a patient and its personalized health coach through engagement: in one a year, it had 355 million text messages sent back and forth, which would be the full time equivalent of 14,800 nurses, and the company views that frequency of interaction as a symbol of trust.
- Lark also gains trust through its data permissions: it doesn't ask for blanket permission to use all of a patient's data but instead will ask for each specific part, such as sleep data, or access to phone sensors for exercise coaching. This makes it easier for the user to understand, and if a user trusts them with the company health data, then they know they are getting value.
- Lark is the second largest pre-diabetes health care provider in the country. It also works with patients struggling with hypertension, with smoking cessation, with weight loss, weight management, as well as preventative care, like sleeping better, eating healthier, or getting fitter.
- The company saw increased engagement during COVID. It launched its AI behavioral therapy coach during the pandemic and immediately a majority of its patients selected it as their main goal that they wanted to focus on. Health plans also realized that digital health is here to stay. This resulted in the company going from managing around one million patients to 30 plus million patients for our health plans in just the last year.
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