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Vida bring coaching to healthcare

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Earlier this month I wrote about the need for healthcare to take on a more coaching based style, whereby keeping people healthy was as important, if not more so, as treating them when they’re sick.

Whilst examples of this kind of approach tend to be few and far between, one that is making significant headway is Vida.  Vida are a mobile based health coaching service that offer a range of support for patients in a host of areas.

The company recently raised $5 million in venture funding, and offers health and wellness coaching services for around $15 a week.  For this, users have access to a network of nutritionists, nurses, diabetes experts, physicians and more via the Vida app.

The app is currently only available on iPhone, but plans are afoot to launch an Android based service shortly.

There are currently eight programs offered through the site to users, including weight loss, stress reduction and diabetes prevention.  It’s believed however that the expertise within Vida covers more areas, so it’s likely that this list will eventually grow.

The service is currently only available directly to consumers, but the plan is to eventually offer it through other channels, such as for instance through employers wellbeing programs, or potentially via healthcare providers themselves.

What does the coaching consist of?

It’s probably worth pointing out the distinction between the coaching offered by Vida and a consultation with a doctor.  This certainly isn’t that, and whilst other apps on the market, such as Doctor on Demand and myMD do offer consultations via video chat, Vida isn’t in that market.

What Vida does offer however, is a supplementary service whereby users can receive advice based upon the latest clinical research.

I’ve written a few times about mobile health apps, and estimates are that this market will hit $49 billion by 2020, although I’m inclined to think that’s an under-estimation, as the rise in smartphone usage combines with a significant rise in wearable sensors makes mobile health an increasingly viable option.

“We are a part of this collaborative, connected care model where there is a team in the cloud, the physician is the specialist, and there’s a health coach on hand. [With Vida] it’s no longer just a one-time visit to the doctor each year. You are getting all your data — biometric, phenotypic, genomic, blood labs — everything is in the cloud and you’ve got a coach in your pocket that is really helping you,” the company say. “We think that’s where healthcare is moving.”

It’s hard to disagree with them, and whilst this service is certainly in an early stage, I’m sure that they will be one of the first of many attempts to crack this market.

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