Mobile health startup with quit-smoking text program raises $2M to launch diabetes product

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A one-year-old mobile health startup that launched a smoking cessation text message program earlier this year has just raised its first round of capital to launch a similar product focused on diabetes.

Nashville-based Agile Health Inc., which provides mobile solutions to employers and other commercial health plan sponsors, has just raised $2 million in equity from three investors, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. CEO Gary Slagle said the company had previously been funded by angel investors and company founders.


Earlier this year, the company launched a mobile smoking cessation program that uses a health messaging engine developed by partner HSAGlobal and interactive features designed by GeneXus USA. Agile works with employers, health plans or businesses to offer the Kick Buts solution to employees or customers. Those who enroll in the program choose a target quit date and are sent personalized messages that provide advice, support and encouragement at scheduled intervals over a 26-week period, according to its website.

Users also have access to an online resource center, an online game center to keep their attention during cravings and a product discount center for deals on relevant other smoking cessation products. Interactive support is available 24/7 through the program, so individuals can send texts and receive encouragement during a craving or slip up, the company says.

The system is based on HSA’s STOMP platform (Stop Smoking Over Mobile Phone), which has been tested overseas in two published studies. A study of 5,800 smokers using the same program in London (published in the June 2011 The Lancet) found that combining regular text message outreach with on-demand interactive text messages can double a person’s chance of successfully quitting. More than 10 percent quit — verified through salivary or carbon monoxide testing after six months — versus 5 percent in the control group.

Slagle said the second product, set to launch by year’s end, will be focused on providing the same sort of support to help patients with diabetes manage their lifestyle. “It’s all about changing and achieving better outcomes by behavior change,” he said.

In the hot mobile industry, Agile has no shortage of competition. For starters, there are hundreds of quit smoking and diabetes management apps available. Last year, the National Cancer Institute started a free mobile service for teens called SmokefreeTXT, and the American Cancer Society also began offering QuitBuddy, a text tool to help smokers stay motivated when trying to quit. QuitJuice is another mobile messaging service for smoking cessation, although its targeted at individuals paying out-of-pocket.

Two former Caremark/CVS Caremark executives, Slagle and Scott Werntz, formed the company in 2011.

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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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