Health2047 spinout leverages community-based approach to tackle prediabetes

StartUp Health closes new $31 million fund focused on 'health moonshots'

Health2047 has spun out a new company, First Mile Care, which is focused on reversing prediabetes, which is defined as higher-than-normal blood sugar but not yet type 2 diabetes.

The startup has begun developing a platform that enables community-based peer-to-peer connection so individuals with prediabetes can receive support.

The company’s approach is based on the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. Here’s how First Mile Care’s program works: For one hour each week over the course of 10 weeks, participants meet with a coach, who suggests healthier habits. During the following year, participants meet with their coach on a monthly basis.

Patients are paired with local coaches so they don’t have to travel far to get help. Additionally, all coaches are from the neighborhood in which they work, meaning they’re aware of the difficulties facing said patient populations.

In a recent phone interview, First Mile Care founder and CEO Karl Ronn explained that there are 84 million Americans living with prediabetes. His company seeks to scale the CDC’s prevention approach and bring it to the majority of the 42,000 zip codes in the United States.

Based in Menlo Park, California, the startup has also secured $2 million in seed funding. Ronn said Health2047 is involved in the investment and that other investors who took part aren’t yet ready to disclose their identities. He added that First Mile Care plans to pursue additional funding in the future.

Looking ahead, the company’s model could be used to assist patients suffering from other chronic conditions.

“Our vision … is that we can prevent chronic disease by enabling people to help themselves,” Ronn said.

He compared the situation to dealing with hair. “Chronic disease is about having more good hair days than bad hair days,” he said. Sometimes bad hair days — or bad days with a chronic disease — just happen. But when they do, you can learn why and be able to help yourself prevent another one from occurring.

Health2047 is a business formation and commercialization organization launched by the American Medical Association. First Mile Health isn’t its first spinout. Health2047 also spun out a data sharing business called Akiri (previously known as Switch). The company is intended to make it easier to transmit data between pharmacies, patients and physicians. It relies on blockchain technology to send information securely through codes.

Photo: akindo, Getty Images

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