Scouting Report-9am.health: Helping Make Virtual Diabetes Care Personal and Affordable
9am.health launched a virtual diabetes platform with $3.7M seed funding from investors, including Founders Fund, Define Ventures, Speedinvest, and iSeed ventures. The digital platform provides a holistic virtual package for diabetes care that is personalized, affordable, and convenient. The company aims to alleviate the financial burden for over 34 million diabetes patients in the U.S. who pay close to $10,000 ($8,400-$9,600) for their care, by providing safe and accessible virtual diabetes care and treatment plans.
With a digital diabetes market projected to grow by 18.8% through 2027, 9am.health plans to use the seed funding to capture part of the market by investing in growth, virtual screening ability, and expanding the range of medications offered on the platform.
The average medical expenditure for people with diabetes in the U.S. is approximately $16,000 (of which 57% is attributed to diabetes).
The digital diabetes market was valued at $13 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow by 18.8% through 2027.
98% of Americans that live with diabetes also have comorbidities and approximately 88M Americans have prediabetes, defined as higher than normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be Type 2 diabetes.
Indirect costs of diabetes include: $3.3B for increased absenteeism from work, $26.9B from reduced productivity while at work.
Frank Westermann and Anton Kittelberger, the founders of 9am.health, bonded as Type 1 diabetes patients, and in April 2021 created 9am.health targeted at those with the highest risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, pre-diabetes and those with Type 2 diabetes. Their vision is to provide people living with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes better access to diabetes care. They began with a goal of creating a virtual diabetes clinic with affordable medications, personalized care plans, and at-home lab tests monthly. From their own experience, the founders saw the challenges in access to diabetes care faced by prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes patients. This led them to develop a virtual clinic providing personalized diabetes care while eliminating the hassles patients face in managing diabetes every day.
The virtual clinic provides a holistic care package that eliminates doctor waiting time by providing online prescriptions, at-home lab tests, personal medical care, and medication delivery, all from the comfort of the patient’s home. After subscribing patients fill out a brief medical questionnaire, they are connected to a licensed medical provider that prescribes the appropriate medications. A team of licensed providers, pharmacists, diabetes care, and education specialists are available on-demand on patients' schedules. Also, the virtual clinic platform equally provides care for conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol in recognition of the comorbidities that diabetic patients often face. While 9am.health doesn’t currently support insulin prescriptions, they have plans to include them in the future.
The service is currently available in 33 states with subscriptions starting at $25 a month for a package including the first medication prescription, home delivery, and support from the care team via chat. Additional charges accrue for each added medication starting from $5 per month, and at-home testing for A1C or lipid screening, including delivery and lab analysis, is available for $15 or more per month.
Even with insurance, the average person living with diabetes spends about “$16,750 per year on medical expenses and has approximately 2.3 times higher the costs than if they didn’t have the disease.” Patients subscribed to 9am.health spend from $25 per month to get a holistic package including online prescription shipping and unlimited personal medical care. 9am.health’s uniqueness lies in its provision of “a digital front door for entire diabetes care,” that is personalized to meet the patients’ needs. As co-founder Westermann, explained to TechCrunch 9am.health wants "to tear down the barriers and make care as easy as possible and managing diabetes part of life”. Furthermore, the service captures other comorbidities like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and mental health issues associated with 98% of Americans with diabetes.
The Big Picture:
9 am. health’s commitment to making diabetic care accessible, more convenient, and affordable is more likely to lower the costs of other treatments such as kidney dialysis, insulin testing, and routine check-ups in healthcare facilities. It also addresses social determinants of health gaps that prevent patients from accessing diabetes care in an easy and convenient fashion. By addressing the barriers associated with accessing diabetes in-person care, the number of people that receive diabetes care could be increased over time thus helping to lower the overall diabetes rate in the U.S. Furthermore, the holistic service provided by 9am.health could potentially reduce the over-utilization of the ED by helping to reduce delayed care or non-adoption of preventive care measures leading to improved adherence, better outcomes, and lower costs. In addition to the direct costs of the disease itself, the American Diabetes Association estimates that the indirect costs of diabetes include: $3.3B for increased absenteeism from work and $26.9B for reduced productivity while at work. Solutions like 9 am.health and others should help dramatically reduce this. As healthcare increasingly moves towards greater self-care, empowering patients to exercise more control over healthcare decisions and management, retail, consumer-friendly solutions like 9 am.health will change the nature of care delivery.
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