Start-up Nutrimedy’s novel digital therapeutics platform provides personalized, evidence-based, convenient, and affordable medical nutrition therapy to transform chronic disease management.
As value-based healthcare models compel medical device, pharmaceutical, and other life sciences companies to expand their reach beyond the product to the patient, most have left out an essential component of patient care: clinical nutrition. Few would disagree that diet and wellness are closely linked; we generally have a sense that it’s not healthy to eat a diet largely based on cheeseburgers and French fries.
Diet is also specifically linked to the outcomes of certain diseases. However, much of what is offered to patients in the realm of nutrition resembles more of a daily health tip than a personalized, evidence-based approach that supports metabolic disturbances related to acute and chronic conditions.
As providers, payors, and health systems increasingly enter risk-bearing contracts designed to reduce hospital readmissions and lower costs, other aspects of care—outside of prescriptions, surgeries, and device interventions—have become increasingly compelling. That’s why in this article we’re addressing a largely medtech audience about nutrition, and specifically, about a new company, Nutrimedy Inc., that has set out to disrupt the brick-and-mortar $10 billion nutritional counseling industry, making nutrition a seamless part of patient care throughout the United States.
Nutrimedy is a novel digital therapeutics platform that provides personalized, evidence-based, convenient, and affordable medical nutrition therapy to transform chronic disease management. Founder Jonah Cohen, MD, a digestive disease physician at Harvard Medical School, says “Nutrition runs through the fabric of medicine and gastroenterology. So many patients have conditions where disease management is inextricably connected to diet.” For example, diet is the mainstay of treatment for celiac disease, and optimizing nutrition has strong evidence in the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, not to mention in obesity, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, among others, conditions that affect millions of Americans.
Dr. Cohen observes that patients who rely on medical nutrition therapy either have to wait months to get an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD) or they don’t know where to turn to find expert, convenient, and personalized nutritional counseling. Nutrimedy, he says, is creating new paradigms for virtual nutritional counseling and bringing together the best of human connection with leading-edge technologies.
At the outset, Cohen sought to differentiate Nutrimedy from hundreds of wellness and weight loss apps that largely leverage technology to deliver generic recommendations and enable tracking. “Technology is great,” says Cohen, “but behavior change is very personal, and there are subtleties around why people make the choices they do with food and why they’ve gotten into certain unhealthy habits. It’s a challenge that’s far too sophisticated for a pure technology-based solution to address successfully.” Nutrimedy is powered by human beings, Cohen says, “By our expert dietitians, who are dedicated to transforming lives.” This human element of Nutrimedy personalizes the plan for how each individual can reach his or her goal.
“Behavior change is very personal, and there are subtleties around why people make the choices they do with food and why they’ve gotten into certain unhealthy habits. It’s a challenge that’s far too sophisticated for a pure technology-based solution to address successfully.”
Nutrimedy Chief Executive Officer, Karolina Starczak is herself a registered dietician, and has also spent more than a decade dedicated to population health. While working with employers and payors, Starczak found that many of the current solutions did not fit the needs of those with multiple chronic conditions or complex needs. She sees Nutrimedy as not only a way to connect registered dieticians to patients with one app that can address more than 50 medical conditions, but as a business with the potential to fill an unmet need as healthcare continues to shift to value-based care.
“Clinical nutrition has been used in primarily inpatient healthcare settings for decades. You have these evidence-based methodologies for myriad conditions that have been shown to improve outcomes and reduce cost. Why not improve the care delivery model and use what we know works to support patients in between provider visits, in the home?” asks Starczak.
That’s exactly what Nutrimedy aims to do: to improve access for patients by using technology to deliver a personalized intervention through multiple modes of communication and engagement.
As a B2B solution, Nutrimedy works with employers, medical device companies, health systems, and payors to design solutions customized to their specific population. Everything from the expertise of registered dieticians to the content seen by the patient is personalized to the organization’s patient population.
When patients log into the web or mobile platform, their experience is designed to ensure that when they schedule a video session or exchange secure messages, they are connected to the appropriate expertise and support. Nutrimedy also allows the users to seamlessly schedule visits for one-on-one video sessions and track progress with a photo food log and biometric trackers available for everything from sleep to blood sugars, all from the comfort of their own homes—or anywhere, actually.
So, medtech companies should care about this…..why?
Cohen says that Nutrimedy could serve as a powerful digital companion for medtech (and pharmaceutical) companies looking to promote compliance, differentiate their offering, aggregate meaningful clinical data, and augment their outcomes via adjunctive nutritional counseling. From heart failure and diabetes device companies to oncology and GI pharmaceutical companies, remote medical nutritional therapy provides a novel value proposition to enhance patient care and reduce costs.
Take heart failure, for example. “The clinical nutrition guidelines already exist, but without a solution like Nutrimedy, how do you connect the dots to make sure that something as crucial as managing nutritional care doesn’t slip through the cracks?” Starczak says, pointing out that readmission risk is a problem in heart failure. Instead, a medical device company, for example, could customize a Nutrimedy program and “provide access to each patient when they return home to ensure they are supported and can navigate the necessary lifestyle changes,” she explains.
In fact, Cohen believes that medical device companies can not only improve outcomes, but also cultivate significant competitive differentiation through Nutrimedy’s offerings. “We can provide this support service alongside a device or pharmacologic therapy,” says Cohen, and “given two competing products in heart failure, diabetes, or ulcerative colitis, the ability to provide additional resources that support the patient, hospital and provider in achieving the best outcomes from the therapy is a competitive advantage.”
Looking through the lens of chronic disease management, Cohen, the clinician, says “Much of telemedicine to date has focused on physician-based care, which has largely served as urgent care triage, but telenutrition has the potential to transform the way we prevent and manage the epidemic burden of chronic conditions.”
Starczak, ever the corporate wellness advocate, says “Telenutrition is an untapped opportunity and we are partnering with others at the forefront of innovation in patient care to transform the future of wellness in this country and beyond.”
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