Health Tech, Artificial Intelligence

Glooko’s CEO expects to provide more personalized recommendations to users following German AI acquisition

Digital health company Glooko acquired Germany-based company xbird, a medical AI company with JITAI (Just In Time Adaptive Intervention) technologies to predict patient behavior and offer behavioral changes accordingly to improve outcomes for patients with diabetes.

a Medical AI Company

Glooko CEO Russ Johannesson believes that the acquisition that the company announced yesterday — it bought Berlin-based predictive analytics firm xbird for an undisclosed amount — will be a boon not only for its diabetes patient base but also their care teams.

Per the company’s announcement, xbird’s JITAI technology ( Just In Time Adaptive Intervention) is able to analyze behavioral and medical data to produce patient specific recommendations and behavioral suggestions. It gathers the information through wearable sensors and smartphones, using the sensors to monitor patient’s movement. The technology’s machine learning algorithm then interprets the data and uses it to produce individualized behavioral profiles.

“… our vision for JITAI at Glooko includes identification, recommendations, etc. for not only the patient, but the care team (e.g. an endocrinologist operating a clinic of 3,000 PWDs [people with diabetes] who require population health analytics on a continual basis to best serve his/her patients) and even the payer, whether they be private or public.” said Johannesson in an email response to questions. “This entire concept of population health management can be well served with JITAI and other analytical approaches and addresses a crucial gap in the global healthcare system, lack of specialists for chronic conditions.”

The ability to remotely monitor patients managing a complex, chronic disease like diabetes is important given how little face-time patients get with their specialists.

“To wit, the typical PWD sees their endocrinologist 3, maybe 4, times per year…that is if they even have an endocrinologist (many are treated by PCPs and other care teams). That’s three 15-20 minute visits over a twelve month period. And they are already at capacity given this standard of care. So what does the patient do for the remainder of the year?” he asked rhetorically. “The analytics that Glooko contains and continues to invest in assist the patient every minute regardless of the specific use case, and help say a PCP to elevate their standard of care for people with chronic conditions.”

The behavioral recommendations that the Glooko’s app can provide are manifold.

“For instance, in diabetes, one could imagine nudging behaviors related to glucose monitoring, insulin or oral medication dosing, physical activity, dietary habits, or healthy coping strategies,” he explained. “The addition of xbird expands Glooko’s advanced analytics capabilities and tools, further broadening Glooko’s platform offerings.”

Perhaps understanding that behavior change is a heavy lift for most people, especially people battling chronic diseases who may have other stresses in life, he points out that JITAI’s recommendations are based in science.

“JITAI is not just about technology, it has to also be informed by the best available evidence in psychology and at Glooko we are hard at work incorporating those principles into our approach,” he said. “For example, Glooko could nudge an adolescent to dose insulin so fewer meal doses are missed, or nudge an adult with pre-diabetes to take more steps in a day or eat more items from a list of healthy foods,” Johannesson said. “One important feature is that the system has the capability to learn what works and what doesn’t for each individual so that it can adjust until it achieves success.”

Glooko plays in the rather crowded space of digital health companies managing diabetes and other chronic diseases. Omada Health, Lark Health, Vida Health, Virta, and Livongo (Teladoc) are all striving to make life easier for people with diabetes.

“Many of our competitors and business models disintermediate the patient-clinician connection, whereas at Glooko, our model enhances the healthcare provider to the patient connection through data sharing and integration, incremental resources and now with xbird just-in-time interventions to
deliver optimal outcomes and ensure full care coordination,” he declared.

What the integration will ultimately mean for users — to date, Glooko’s solutions have been used by more than 3 million — and when it will be launched is unclear.

“We are currently assessing the scope of the integration between the two
platforms, and once this assessment is complete, we will inform our customers and partners when to expect this product release, via a comprehensive marketing rollout,” Johannesson said.

Photo: Glooko, Inc.