Helping Diabetics get the Best Care with Data

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In this interview, Ed Deng, CEO of Health2Sync, talks about solving the lack of needed data for long-term diabetes care. In Asia, the ratio of diabetes educators (nurses) to patients is 1:23,000 even though Asia is where 50% of the world’s diabetes resides. This is a huge problem that will not be solved with the current solutions and, as such, alternative solutions must be put into practice.

Keep reading to learn how Health2Sync is solving the health gap in Asia. 

What were your reasons for founding Health2sync? What inspired and motivated you to do so?

The life insurance industry has been challenged since 2008. Low-interest rates are reducing the profit margin for many insurers, driving them to try all different things to improve profitability, including going direct (MassMutual – HavenLife), changing their products (John Hancock – Vitality), consolidating, or rethinking their risk.

There is a long history of Type 2 diabetes in my family, with both my parents and grandparents suffering from it. Even though there are multiple doctors in my family, diabetes is still a major health risk and it’s led to the death of many family members.

One event that truly marked me was witnessing my grandmother get into multiple car accidents due to hypoglycemia and later develop the habit of self-monitoring her blood sugar to stabilize her condition. This was how I learned that patients need tools to track blood sugar, real-time feedback, and data, which allows them to better track their own condition and later help doctors re-visit treatment plans.

In addition, Taiwan’s National Health Insurance has a pay-for-performance scheme wherein healthcare providers are rewarded financially when patients demonstrate positive outcomes over time. As a result, effective clinical practice of long-term diabetes care has been developed in Taiwan over the past decade. Unfortunately, due to the lack of resources, the only way to make this scheme work was by leveraging digital technology and taking long-term diabetes care online.

The same cannot be said for rest of Asia, where the ratio of diabetes educators (nurses) to patients is 1:23,000 even though Asia is where 50% of the world’s diabetes resides. This is huge problem that will not be solved with the current solutions and, as such, alternative solutions must be put into practice.

This is why we aim to:
– Solve the lack of needed data for long-term diabetes care;
– Close the loop of care for patients that have limited access to doctors and diabetes educators.

How are you collecting data from your customers? And in which ways are you using the data to better serve your customers?

In the analog days of logging data on paper, patients complained about not receiving feedback and that the bi-monthly or quarterly doctor visits also didn’t allow enough time for a thorough and deep conversation. Now, when patients use our app, they can automatically sync or manually log blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, diet, exercise, and medication. In Taiwan and Japan, we also enable patients to easily sync their prescription information as well. By capturing longitudinal data that otherwise wouldn’t be available, we are able to offer healthcare providers critical knowledge on patient’s progress and behavior in between visits, which then allows the doctors to make precise decisions and re-adjust treatment plans as needed.

Our software platform also works with other business stakeholders in the ecosystem; private health insurance providers, pharmaceuticals, or medical device companies, just to name a few. Each stakeholder would like to have digital touch-points and further engagement with patients. Additional services are also developed and delivered to the patients through our platform.

In the case of health insurance, historically, patients with pre-conditions such as diabetes were rejected from coverage. With the effective outcomes we have demonstrated for patients using our app, some health insurance providers in Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia are now willing to insure diabetics at affordable rates with a combined offering of insurance and digital care. In Taiwan and Japan, our solution also plays an integral part in underwriting.

In your app, you are able to communicate with your customers and give them feedback on their lifestyle. Which kind of technologies are you using for that? And how are you using them?

With the data that is synced or logged, our automated care messages will send users alerts, guidance and reminders. In the last 12 months, we have been able to create new predictive features by leveraging machine learning technology. As our user base continues to grow, we are deepening our chat bot engagement and creating new features in collaboration with pharmaceuticals and health insurance providers.

We found that only 26% of the current coverage need is being met, so not only were policyholders not nearly as protected as they need to be, but providers were missing out on $70 billion in potential revenue.

How do you plan on helping diabetics obtain proper care? And what is it that makes your way of helping them unique and valuable for the industry?

Earlier this year, we co-developed a Software Development Kit with the National Health Insurance Administration (Taiwan’s largest payer) allowing users to download their own medical records from the last three years in the app for further analysis and insight. In Taiwan and Japan, we will be able to infer from the data and previous health status and, in some cases, predict outcomes with the integrated data. We also provide a web-based platform for healthcare providers to track patients in a scalable manner. Whether it is the healthcare provider using our platform or our chat bot that is proactively engaging the patient, we enable patients to be cared for in between visits to the doctor. This is of significant value to public and private payers, as diabetes and the complications it causes are generally half of the top ten healthcare spending in most Asian countries.

We are constantly enhancing our service while putting patients at the center of the ecosystem. Because we are seeing healthcare gravitating towards an outcome-based model, delivering proper intervention and being able to track performance will become part of payer models in the future. Health2Sync is uniquely positioned to participate in this transformation that is taking place in the industry.

How are you planning on expanding Health2sync into other regions in the future? Which regions are most interesting to you?

We started in Taiwan and Japan and we plan to focus on Asia. We are keen on the Southeast Asia market as diabetes is prevalent and most countries there suffer from severe shortages of diabetes care professionals.

In addition, our business partners are giving us opportunities to potentially collaborate in markets like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. We believe building partnerships with device manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, and insurers will be key for us to generate awareness for our service and penetrate medical institutions in these markets. We look forward to the challenge of replicating our success in Taiwan and Japan to Southeast Asia.


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Bradley Collins

Bradley Collins