BetterFit Technologies Joins Forces with Ginger.io

In this exclusive interview Indu Subaiya, CEO of Health 2.0 talks with Ginger.io’s CEO Anmol Madan and Julia Winn, previous CEO of BetterFit Technologies, to discuss how their respective companies came together to make sense of the duality of active and passive patient data collection.  They also dive into the challenges facing clinicians to make timely interventions across a large-scale patient population and how Ginger.io is creating the solution.

Join Health 2.0 at the 2013 mHealthSummit on Monday December 9th in Washington DC to see Julia Winn demo how BetterFit Technologies has integrated with Ginger.io on the panel Future of Self-Tracking and Personalized Medicine. Register here.

Indu Subaiya: Let me start by welcoming you, Anmol and Julia, to the conversation.  We’re looking forward to having you at Health 2.0. Why don’t we begin by starting with you, Anmol.  Give us a bit of a background and history of Ginger.io.  We had you present at Health 2.0 in 2011.  Tell us a bit about your roles in the company and how you’ve developed in the last couple of years.

Anmol Madan: We’ve been around for about 2 ½ years and presented at Health 2.0 in our very early days.  At Ginger.io we work with passive mobile phone data and behavior analytics for chronic patient populations.  For providers and other players in the health care ecosystem, we help them manage their patient populations better so we help identify which of their patients are likely asymptomatic at that point of time. The idea is to enable doctors, nurses, and also family members and friends to reach out to their patients and support them when they need help the most.

Indu Subaiya: The term that you use often in describing what you do is ‘passive data’.  Can you tell us a little bit more about what that means specifically and how you distinguish passive data from other types of data that consumers are collecting about themselves?

Anmol Madan: Absolutely.  Every one of us is carrying a mobile phone and it’s an incredibly powerful diary of your life because it has all sorts of sensors built in.  There is a tremendous amount of data generated, and the complexity around interpreting this data, delivering insights, and making them actionable is a really interesting problem for us at Ginger.io.

Indu Subaiya: One last question for you, Anmol, and then I would love to bring in Julia’s perspective here.  How are providers integrating the data that they get from Ginger.io?  And tell us a little bit about your observations from how that has gone so far.

Anmol Madan: There is an ongoing transition in health care, and at Ginger.io our platform is revolutionizing how providers, nurses, and institutions manage their patient populations at scale. Providers use the Ginger.io platform to determine who needs help, have timely outreach, and a meaningful conversation with their patients around their real-world behavior. This helps the health care system achieve the triple aim: better care and outcomes, a better experience for patients & families, and lower costs.

The Ginger.io system is currently deployed with over 15 health care insitutitions. The platform collects, processes, and models individual behavior, and delivers insights to patients as well as the nurse staff, with the patient’s opt-in permission. Patients on the Ginger.io platform consistently report a stronger connection with their providers.

Indu Subaiya: Julia, a bit about your background before you connected with Anmol and Ginger.io, and about your thoughts on coming together?

Julia Winn: I was previously the CEO and Founder of BetterFit Technologies.  This was a company that I started while I was in school.  I was a Computer Science Major at Harvard College so I was able to build the first prototype myself, and even got class credit. I was able to get some early funding from the Summer@Highland program and TechStars Leader, TechStars Boston in the fall of 2012.

We went through a couple different iterations of what our product looked like, but what we ended up with was a two-way text message communication system that have ongoing text message conversations to patients to figure out what was going on with them in between doctor appointments. Health care is so episodic, if you really want to be able to treat the patient as an individual, you need to have all their back story.

Indu Subaiya: So, Anmol, when did you first learn about what Julia was working on?  And tell us a bit about the thinking that led you to ultimately collaborate.

Anmol Madan: We were first introduced to Julia via the TechStars program.  Ginger.io graduated from the program a couple of years ago and Julia was, I believe, in the next batch.  So we had common friends in the Harvard MIT community and also within the TechStars community.  That’s how we were introduced to Julia.

In terms of how we started collaborating, I think we had a couple of conversations about the industry and where our respective companies were going, what we were seeing, what was working across the industry and how we thought it was changing.  It actually made sense to combine forces and really go off and do something compelling together.

Indu Subaiya: Great, and Julia, from your perspective as we wind down here, Anmol mentioned that going after a couple of thorny problems, what do you see as some of the exciting challenges ahead in your new chapter at Ginger.io?

Julia Winn: It’s been interesting to see some of the same data problems that we were working on at BetterFit actually.  Well, there are quite a lot of things.  Some of the same data problems that we were working on at BetterFit actually.  For instance, how do we best engage the end user or the patient?  I’m looking at a lot of analytics around responses, response rates, and response times to the different kinds of surveys and also, can we predict things like, when users actually would like to pick up the phone from their nurse?

So how can we make the most of this data and make the whole polling and intervention process with the physician as efficient and time effective for both parties?

Anmol Madan: Yeah, just to add to that, I, personally, am excited about Julia working on the metrics and understanding our platform better.  Also, on the business side, I think she is helping us figure out a couple of new initiatives.

Indu Subaiya: Great!  Well, we are really happy to see the union of two great companies and both who in some ways are also alumni of Health 2.0.  Thank you so much.

Julia Winn will demo how BetterFit Technologies has integrated with Ginger.io on the panel Future of Self-Tracking and Personalized Medicine with Health 2.0 at the 2013 mHealthSummit today, December 9, 2013 at the mHealth Summit in Washington D.C.- Register here.

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