DNA, Bacteria and AI Can Save Your Life and Your Bottom Line
Low fat diets. High fat diets. Long distance running. Goat yoga. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew what was best for our bodies based on science rather than fad? And not “best for our bodies collectively,” but individually; if we knew what made each of us tick?
With artificial intelligence’s move into the health space, this is becoming more and more possible — everything from the ability to look at an individual’s genetics and construct the data to discover patterns, to bringing health care to underserved regions, to apps that offer personalized nutrition and wellness programs, AI is on its way to democratizing our health.
According to an article in Adweek, Ogilvy is tracking at least 168 AI-focused health care startups, while Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, UnitedHealth and others are all investing in startups, internal R&D or pilot programs. Meanwhile, a recent Facebook Live Q&A on the subject teamed up YPO CEO Scott Mordell and John Chambers, CEO of J2C Ventures and Chairman Emeritus of Cisco Systems. “I see huge movement in artificial intelligence in areas of health care,” Chambers observed. “There’s been a large amount of money going into the space in the last two years from venture capitalists, which usually means there’s a change about to occur.”
Making wellness personal
For YPO member Ranjan Sinha, CEO and Co-Founder of 3TandAi , the change started long ago. In tandem with his YPO forum mate Scott Levy, 3TandAi — a personalized nutrition and wellness program built on AI, genetic and gut biome information — is rooted in a surprise diagnosis more than a decade ago in 2004, when Sinha was told he needed emergency triple bypass surgery.
“I was shocked,” recalls Sinha. “I had literally been following every guideline there was for a healthy person — from food to fitness to stress management. I didn’t smoke. I wasn’t obese. I ran, swam, skied and did the annual executive checkups.” He pauses, then says, “Since I had high cholesterol, the only advice I received was to eat less shrimp and the whites of egg only. Each subsequent opinion I received, I realized it was very much like the parable about the six blind monks trying to define an elephant — they were all partly right.”
The secret life of DNA
And so, Sinha put off his “emergency” surgery and started conducting his own research. What he was surprised to learn was how much of the science supporting the healthy guidelines was driven by averages.
And no one is an average.
“As I dug deeper, I became relatively confident I could manage my disease through food and exercise, personalized for my metabolism, which would put me at less of a risk of having an early death,” says Sinha. “The ability to protect your DNA and make sure you have a healthy gut depends on lifestyle factors which are purely a function of food, sleep, stress, exercise and your exposure to pollutants. That’s it; those five things.”
DNA, an abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid, is a complex molecule that codes all the information needed to run your body and mind. It is the blueprint that not only makes our eyes green or our feet flat, but also determines our health — how our bodies build immunity, react to certain foods and stimulus. No two people in the world have the same DNA and gut biome signature and so it follows, that by looking into our DNA and gut biome, we’re able to curate a wellness lifestyle that best benefits our predispositions.
3TandAi’s integration of DNA, gut biome, blood markers (a simple laboratory analysis performed on a blood sample) and lifestyle data combined with scientific research conducted across public universities and labs, is part of a movement to mitigate many chronic diseases in the next 10 years.
The program is twofold. First, inform individuals of their unique metabolism and body. And second, be their intelligent food and lifestyle tracker, a guide delivering simple, personalized choices through recipes, exercise and meal plans as well as sustainable behavioral changes for peak performance, weight loss and prevention of Type II Diabetes.
Instead of waiting until sickness reveals itself, the program allows users to take control of their health destiny and monitor metrics like stress, energy and weight, supporting the lifestyle and diet choices that affect overall wellness.
As Chambers mentioned in his talk with Mordell, the health care space is on the verge of a serious upheaval and companies like 3TandAi have some incredibly groundbreaking peers. Babyscripts is a digital health tool designed to enhance the doctor-patient relationship outside the clinic during routine, low-risk pregnancy care. Patients who have the app receive to-do lists, nutrition, exercise and behavior guides as well as a “mommy kit” with a connected weight scale and blood pressure cuff.
Noteworth’s connected health platform enables health organizations to prescribe virtual care to their patients by collecting and accessing contextualized patient-generated health data, which reduces costly office visits and puts the power of health in the patient’s hands.
And with Conversa’s AI-powered app, patients are empowered to be less reactive and episodic by delivering scalable, flexible and fully-automated virtual care that helps monitor, manage and engage patients. The app draws from a library of more than 500 “clinically-intelligent” conversations — not random online searches — that cover a host of wellness scenarios.
One for all
As business leaders, it is fascinating to consider that one of the most advantageous effects of AI-powered health care is its ability to create healthier companies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers USD225.8 billion annually in the United States; or USD1,685 per employee per year. Knowing this, the concept of preventative health care seems pretty attractive.
“I had 350 employees in my last company and our health care costs kept going up,” says Levy. “I often wondered if there wasn’t another way, a more actionable, prescriptive way to address health issues that could be a win-win for me, for my employees and for their families.”
If companies pay a significant portion of employees’ health insurance costs, which are directly affected by employee wellness, it follows suit that when employees are healthier, the costs come down. Putting the power of health in their hands by way of an app, is a pretty simple way to start.
“It’s our responsibility as conscientious human beings to invest in the health and wellbeing of our employees,” says Sinha. “A happy side effect is that in so doing, you generate higher performance, lower absenteeism and lower health care costs.” So, for anyone out there interested in trading costly, painful, debilitating surgeries and drugs for a more proactive, sustainable solution, your best bet lies in the hands of AI-powered apps.
Read or watch the entire Mordell and Chambers Facebook Live conversation here!