SAN FRANCISCO — Talk to investors about why they like Omada Health, and they point you first to its technology. The startup, they rave, deploys sleek devices to monitor patients with chronic medical conditions; it collects millions of data points on their behavior; and it uses machine learning and other artificial intelligence techniques to automate health reminders and to flag individuals who need more intervention.
It’s a robust operation. It would also fall apart without the likes of DJ Moberly, a “health coach” who spends much of her day exchanging messages with Omada’s diabetes patients from her home in the Houston area — helping them set and stick to goals, encourage them to eat healthy, and offering them tips about controlling their blood sugar levels.
Digital health companies like Omada are now booming businesses. Although their models vary, they all monitor and educate people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression — and make money by charging their employers or health plans, with the promise of ultimately lowering medical costs. In just the past few months, leading companies in the sector have gone public, been acquired by Google, and raised tens of millions of dollars of venture capital funding.