First things first, the staggering casualties: Last year, of the Americans who died, 7 out of every 10 died with chronic lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These diseases cost the US healthcare system $1 trillion dollars a year to manage or prevent. That’s 84% of all of US healthcare costs, not to mention more than Argentina’s GDP.
Diabetes and obesity can be prevented and managed by eating healthier, getting more active, and stressing less. Obesity is killing us, but the war against obesity is being unfairly fought. There are not enough soldiers.
We currently have 1 doctor to take care of every 355 Americans. That means one day a year, we get diagnoses and progress reports, and the advice on how we can live healthier. But for the rest of the year, who helps us ignore the candy aisle at Office Depot, or forego the elevator and walk up the stairs, or sleep instead of binge-watch House of Cards because we’re stressed? We need someone who can follow us around 24/7, provide us with constant feedback, teach us new strategies, and motivate us to live and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
How do we do the impossible and increase our army of health providers from 1 doctor for every 355 Americans to a personal doctor for each American, 24/7? These constraints require us to look beyond human capital.
Imagine technology that can clone your favorite doctor — their advice, their warmth, their empathy — so that they’re with you every single moment. They could tirelessly collect all of your health and fitness data, hear about a meal you had, and then chat with you about your nutrition choices immediately.
At Lark, we are using cutting edge artificial intelligence to mimic the best coaches and healthcare providers in the world, so we can put them in your pocket. Lark Chat is an interactive, text-coaching app designed for positive behavior change around healthy eating, weight loss, and chronic disease prevention.
While doctors, coaches, parents, and peers will always be integral to shaping our behaviors, we found that digital coaching fills some very significant voids in human interaction. Foremost, a digital coach is capable of caring at times when even the most caring, nurturing person in your life can’t. She is always available and texts back within two seconds, even at 1AM on Saturday. She can focus on the daily, repetitive tasks, while our brilliant healthcare providers focus on the skilled and highly complex tasks that they were trained for.
We're excited for the way that AI will change the healthcare space, inspiring a shift from bandaids and one-time fixes to continuous care. Most importantly, it can connect us to our own daily choices, and empower us to take control of living better.