Posted on March 13, 2018 by staff

Healthtech platform aiming to put diabetes in ‘remission’


OurPath’s healthtech platform can help users make lifestyle changes which can prevent diabetes, says account manager Michael Whitman.

The company uses a mix of technology, including an app, smart scales and activity tracker, combined with human mentors to create a bespoke three-month programme designed to help people lose weight and make lasting lifestyle changes.

It has just completed a trial in North West London with 200 people living with type 2 diabetes and saw on average a seven per cent reduction in total bodyweight.

“We also saw physical activity increased in 20 per cent of people,” Whitman told BusinessCloud. “We saw some patients lose over 10kg and come off their diabetes medication, which is exciting.

“Putting diabetes into remission is a huge thing, especially because of a trial that’s come out from the University of Newcastle saying it is possible with calorie restriction, so it’s something to really strive for and something we’ll be trying to make the most of in future.”

For the most part though the company – which was included in BusinessCloud’s recent Health Tech Pioneers list – is focusing on prevention.

“We started the programme because Chris [Edson]’s dad was diagnosed with being at risk of diabetes,” said Whitman.

“We wanted to help him out and he went on the programme and lost over 10kg – he was one of the first participants.”

Launched in 2016, the company was born when Edson and his co-founder Mike Gibbs were working for a healthcare consultancy.

They saw the crippling effect lifestyle diseases were having on the NHS and how unsustainable the current treatment model was going to be without a bigger focus on prevention.

“They saw that almost 100 per cent of the NHS diabetes budget was spent on drugs and the treatment of complications whereas less than five per cent was spent on preventative measures,” said Whitman.

“Lifestyle diseases are entirely preventative with the right support. Prevention has always been the goal for the NHS but do they have the time and tools?

“The tech coming through has given them those tools and a practical, scalable option to reach the sheer numbers of people at risk to help them improve their lifestyle in the long term.”

The company’s blend of tech and human support is vital, says Whitman, who believes that the results the programme achieves wouldn’t be possible without both together.

“Healthcare has the biggest opportunity to allow for disruptive innovation as long as the market is there for it to grow,” he said.

“The NHS is changing and the way people interact with everything is evolving and healthcare is no different.

“NHS digital and all its digital assets, especially our inclusion in NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme as a digital alternative, suggests they’re really embracing it and allowing the market to flourish.”

When users sign up to the programme – which is £60 per month for three months – they receive individualised, personal support after taking a quiz which assesses their core motivators.

“We find out whether it’s because they want to improve their energy, they feel out of control, they’re worried about their health, they want to look better,” said Whitman.

“They’re all different motivators and all have a huge impact on how people will do and what their goal should be.”

The quiz also asks about challenges – such as restricting calories or sorting through conflicting information – and triggers such as stress and social events.

Having a longer-term view that users can take away for a healthier lifestyle is an important motivator for the team, and Whitman insists the programme is not the same as a fad diet.

“We don’t see it as the programme ends after three months – users can subscribe to our ‘sustain’ programme and the tech is theirs to keep,” he said.

“The idea is we teach new behaviours and you embed them in your daily life, then even after you’ve finished you can go it alone and continue living life in that way.”

His final tip for anyone who wants to have a healthier lifestyle is to cut out processed foods.

“Eat real food and cook your own meals,” he said.

“It’s the biggest thing we see in our core programme. On average we see 3-5kg weight loss in the first three weeks usually solely based on the fact people are cutting out processed foods.”