Meal Service Startup Helping To Prevent Diabetes With Fitbit's

Excerpts From CNBC: PlateJoy's approach uses technology to try and prevent disease — and ultimately lower health-care costs.


A San Francisco start-up is combining food and technology to prevent diabetes.

PlateJoy, a personalized meal-planning company, is introducing an offering called PlateJoy Health: Diabetes Prevention. The company’s current platform gives people recipes based on their lifestyle and nutrition goals. This new system will combine the traditional service with additional tools like weight tracking and virtual coaching to treat people with prediabetes in an attempt to prevent them from developing Type 2 diabetes.

People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but aren’t quite high enough to be considered diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the condition effects 86 million adults in the U.S., or 1 in 3 people. Prediabetes can lead to Type 2 diabetes, but it often can be reversed through weight loss and increased physical activity.

The Fitbit Inspire is exclusively available to corporate employees and health insurance members. This model may be fully subsidized and issued by a company that wants its employees to stay active, or a health insurance provider that wants its members to monitor their well-being.

Customers who qualify for insurance coverage pay nothing out of pocket. They typically hear about the program from their employer or their insurer, and take a short quiz on PlateJoy’s website to see whether they qualify for diabetes prevention and thus insurance coverage. PlateJoy submits claims to insurers or employers when users of its pre-diabetes program hit specific health-related milestones, such as losing 5% of their starting body weight.

Marjie Starkey, 42, joined PlateJoy’s program in January. She had gestational diabetes during both her pregnancies and heard about the diabetes prevention plan from her insurer, Anthem Blue Cross. Starkey likes that she can customize the plan to her other goals and needs, like following a Ketogenic diet or using up the 20 pounds of boneless chicken breasts she purchased at Costco. Since signing up, she’s lost 15 pounds. “I have the data to show that I have been making improvements in my weight,” said Starkey, who lives in California.

about 20 million people will be able to qualify for the diabetes prevention program.

A number of Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans will cover PlateJoy’s diabetes prevention system. So will employers Express Scripts, Dignity Health and Kroger, meaning about 20 million people will be able to qualify for the diabetes prevention program.

When people whose insurance covers the program register, they’ll receive a free digital wireless scale that connects to their app. When they complete their first two weeks of participation, they’ll receive a free FitBit, which is also integrated with the system.

Paying for preventative care rather than simply treating disease is something health advocates have pushed for as a way to keep people healthy, and keep costs down but it has proved to be tough to implement.

Research estimates the lifetime average cost of treatment for a patient with diabetes in the US at more than $85,000. Bognet thinks PlateJoy aligns the interests of all parties: Patients get healthier for less money; insurers save money; and her company gets paid.

“Insurance companies know that it makes sense to pay for prevention instead of treatment,” she said. “I think five years from now, insurers will pay for your SoulCycle classes because they know it’s going to save them money long term.”

PlateJoy was founded by MIT grad Christina Bognet to help people lose weight and maintain healthy lives by giving them the tools to eat nutritious balanced diets. It’s now expanding its mission to use that philosophy to prevent disease, and diabetes is only the first disease

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