Healthcare is an industry that was late to adopt technology. As the culture and mindset, and organizational barriers to adoption are being broken down, digital health has the potential to transform the way people interact with the healthcare system, receive healthcare, and engage in their own health. Insights Success in this edition “The Industry Disruptors Redeﬁning Innovation in 2020” is applauding some of the industry disruptors who are leading with innovation and excellence. One such industry disruptor is ConnectWell, a leading-edge provider of digital health and wellness content that is academically sourced and designed for a consumer audience to engage people in their total health and wellbeing. The company believes that the future of the healthcare industry will be one where the patient (the healthcare consumer) is in the center, having the knowledge and skills to be a committed and vested partner in their own care. ConnectWell and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health plan to be a big part of this future as its suite of health and wellness content provides the means to educate and empower people.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Insights Success and ConnectWell’s CEO, Andrea Bloom:
How do you consider your company an industry disruptor in healthcare?
A paradigm change is needed in the U.S. healthcare system. “Medicare for all”, “Universal coverage”, “Build on the Affordable Care Act”. These are some of the campaign messages that have been touted for 2020 as a solution to our healthcare crisis. But what we really need is “health engagement” on a national scale. Health engagement has the ability to reverse our country’s never-ending trend toward increased chronic disease and healthcare spending.
Chronic diseases account for 86% of healthcare costs in the U.S. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease estimates that by 2030, 83 million people in the U.S. will have three or more chronic health conditions, up from 31 million in 2015. The New England Journal of Medicine predicts that by 2030, 50% of American adults will be obese. These trends need to stop if we are going to reverse our healthcare expenditures and help people thrive physically and mentally.
The demands on the healthcare system have dramatically shifted from acute care to chronic care. The system is effective in addressing acute issues, whereby patients are seen by a physician and are diagnosed and prescribed treatment. However, because physician visits tend to be infrequent and hurried, the healthcare system is not suited to helping people manage long-term chronic conditions. With the advent of digital health, there is a different model of healthcare emerging where people can get the information they need to engage in their health on a continuous basis. Furthermore, COVID-19 brings into focus the importance of people reducing their health risks through self-management and doing so through digital health.
What led to the inception of the company?
My passion for providing people with prevention, wellness and disease management education started during my time at Johnson & Johnson’s Diabetes Care Division. This is where I learned how people with type 2 diabetes can successfully manage their disease through healthy eating and increasing their physical activity.
However, I realized that many people were exposed to these healthy lifestyle practices only after they were diagnosed. People have an opportunity to prevent, delay, and reduce the severity of chronic diseases if they have ongoing access to a trusted, comprehensive source of information that engages them to be more proactive in preventing disease and adopting healthy habits. The impetus behind ConnectWell and forming our partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health was to provide this information to the population at large through our customers’ platforms in a format that makes it easy to integrate wellness into daily living.
Describe your company’s cutting-edge solutions.
ConnectWell offers three key components of Digital Health and Wellness content that work together to support total health and well-being:
- Health & Wellness Digital Library: Extensive coverage of health, wellness, and disease topics from A to Z
- Wellness Initiatives: Wellness education with strategies and tools to help in the adoption of healthy lifestyle practices
- Healthy Recipe Collection: Healthy recipes that are tasty, easy to make, and made from whole foods and healthy ingredients
We license our content suite to a wide range of companies across the healthcare spectrum including payers, providers, health coaching companies as well as employers and their beneﬁts management partners. Customers integrate our offering into their proprietary delivery platforms in creative ways to engage individuals in their health and wellness.
What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions resourceful?
Being located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, ConnectWell has had the advantage of tapping the tremendous technological talent available nearby and being able to deliver digital health and wellness information in innovative ways. The underlying architecture of ConnectWell’s content offering makes it visually oriented and easy to navigate, while providing seamless integration into the digital delivery portals of our customers. ConnectWell’s content is tagged for easy topic search, where it can be directed to consumers based on their individual health and wellness needs. ConnectWell merges the Artiﬁcial Intelligence (AI) capabilities of our partners with ConnectWell’s proprietary Application Programming Interface (API).
Could you shed some light on the tagline “Integrating Wellness into Life”?
Regarding ConnectWell’s tagline, Andrea says, “With our digital content we provide anywhere, anytime access to validated information that is current, actionable, and comes from a credible independent source.”
How do your services differ from the other companies’ offerings?
ConnectWell’s partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health ensures that our content suite incorporates leading-edge developments and trends in healthcare. UC Berkeley’s tight partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical School and Health Center guarantees that ConnectWell is accessing the latest treatments and trends in medicine. The content suite is free of advertising and industry sponsorship and is university-sourced, scientiﬁcally rigorous, and clinically current. Content is derived from peer-reviewed medical journals and vetted scientiﬁc sources, and is written by medical experts, specialists, and thought leaders in their respective ﬁelds. Digital content is crafted in short, easy-toread segments, and has relevance to a wide-range audience. All content is updated annually and whenever new standard-of-care guidelines are published. UCTV video presentations from University of California experts are woven throughout the content suite to enhance user experience.
Describe the values that drive your company.
We are a mission-driven company in a partnership with a leading school of public health with a legacy of commitment to social change, innovation, and leadership. This partnership enables ConnectWell to serve large communities and cross socioeconomic and geographic boundaries through distribution over a wide range of digital health platforms, ensuring access to the most trusted source of health and wellness content.
“Livpact’s online platform provides busy caregivers the support, knowledge and resources they need to effectively manage their loved one’s care. Now with ConnectWell’s expert health and wellness content, we’re able to add signiﬁcant depth to our offering.” Cary Ussery, Founder and CEO of Livpact
“WellAware is the ﬁrst digital technology that tracks and analyzes personal health data to improve the early detection and prevention of chronic disease. Our partnership with ConnectWell is a game changer for entering the U.S. market. ConnectWell is also a game changer for the entire healthcare sector as it moves from treating diseases to empowering individuals to take healthcare matters into their own hands and create better health and wellness for themselves.” Matthew Toms, Co-Founder and CEO of WellAware
About the Leader
Andrea Bloom is the Founder & CEO of ConnectWell and guides the company’s vision of empowering people in their health by being a trusted source of comprehensive digital health and wellness content. Andrea is a seasoned healthcare executive and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in various product development, marketing, international, business development, and consulting roles. Prior to founding ConnectWell, Andrea worked for leading healthcare companies (Johnson & Johnson, Roche), medical device start-ups (Metrika, iCare, Calibra Medical) and health-related nonproﬁts (Institute for the Future, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Heart Association, and Institute for Responsible Nutrition). Andrea received a BA in Economics from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.