Improving Public Health Through Telemedicine

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Laurence Girard, CEO of Fruit Street Health, joined me for this very special 100th episode of our Fireside Chat series. Among many other things, he shared his tips for aspiring HealthTech entrepreneurs, his views on the future of telemedicine and digital health, and why he thinks healthcare companies should be funded by healthcare professionals rather than venture capitalists.

Below is a sneak peek of our discussion:

Q: If patients are going to a government website to do their assessment, is there any interoperability with your app or your system or the download? What is that next step in the trajectory of the patient’s journey?

A: You can take it on the government’s website like cdc.gov, but actually the CDC encourages digital health companies like Fruit Street to just embed it in their own application, so it’s fully embedded in our application. When they take that quiz, they get either a high-risk result or a low-risk result or, in some cases, they’re not eligible. For example, the program is not designed for people who are pregnant or under the age of 18.

If they get a high-risk result, it would explain to them, “You are likely to have pre-diabetes.” Then, they can actually enter their health plan ID number into the application and we can run a real-time eligibility chat with the health plan through our partner Change Healthcare, because we want to make sure that we have all the correct insurance information as they go through the program.

The way we bill for the program is that it’s based on milestones, so we get a payment when the employee signs up, another one after two classes with the dietitian, six classes with the dietician, and then at 5% weight loss. What we’re actually doing at each milestone is using the diagnosis code for pre-diabetes and the CPT code for online diabetes prevention. The employers and health plans love this because it’s all performance-based. We don’t get paid anything unless there’s some sort of engagement or outcomes, and it’s all going through as a claim. Typically, wellness programs are sitting in some other budget category, but we’re billing for the services the same way that a doctor is.

Basically, people take the quiz, they enter their insurance information, they join a class and then they would start participating on a weekly basis. At the beginning of the program, there are weekly classes. It might be every Saturday at 2 pm for example, that they’re joining these classes on Zoom, and then throughout the week, they’re stepping on their scale, they’re using their Fitbit, they’re taking pictures of their food, they’re text messaging with the dietitian throughout the week, and that’s pretty much how their experience is…

For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Laurence Girard, or listen to the podcast version, below.

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About Impetus Digital

Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients.

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