Twenty-nine million people have Type 2 Diabetes, and eighty-four million people are prediabetic in the United States. The US economy spends around $327 million annually on treatment and care for this disease. Additionally, Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, and non-traumatic lower limb amputation in the US, as well as the 7th leading cause of death. BEATDiabetes, founded by Susan Blank, is working hard to make these numbers smaller.
Patients with Type 2 diabetes spend at most a few hours a year in diabetes-related healthcare encounters. BEATDiabetes leverages technology and insights from behavioral economics to support and motivate patients during their other 5000 waking hours, when they are on their own, surrounded by distraction and temptation. The program offers a set of customizable frequent text message-based engagement and financial incentives to assist the patient in reaching their goals. If the patient achieves their set mark, they receive $100 and a chance to win $500.
In a pilot project with 45 patients, BEATDiabetes participants had improvements in blood sugars on par with what is seen with many of the newer diabetes medications, at a fraction of the cost and without the risk of side effects. By improving blood sugar control, BEATDiabetes can help patients avoid complications of Diabetes and decrease the cost of care, which helps not just the patients, but society as a whole.
Susan is an endocrinologist in Charlottesville, Virginia and started her company after helping many patients in her practice, "When my patients came in, they seemed to really understand the changes they needed to make and be sincere in their desire to make healthy choices. Maybe they were great for a few days after the appointment, but gradually real life intervened, and by the time their next appointment came three months later, often they were right back where they started." That's what makes BEATDiabetes so impactful. With customizable alerts based on the patients' preferences, they can be alerted as few times as 4-5 times a week and as many times as +60 per week. The texts include reminders to take insulin shots, exercise, or little tips and tricks to motivate them to make life-long changes.
Most diabetic patients don't feel any side effects on a day-to-day basis, which makes it easy for them to put their disease out of sight and out of mind. BEATDiabetes hopes to catalyze change in the lifestyle of patients to improve their health and remind them to stay on track to meet their goals.
Susan is currently working on getting insurance companies and employers to offer these benefits to their employees, which will reduce the costs they spend on health care for these patients in the long run. Susan wants to make BEATDiabetes available to low-income patients that may not have reliable health insurance as well, and she is working on grant funding.