Why Telehealth Is the Key for Lifestyle Interventions – Laurence Girard, Fruit Street

Why are lifestyle interventions failing? We know we have an obesity and chronic condition crisis that  is costing us millions in healthcare each year. We know that we can reduce the risk of all chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) by 80% by simply eating better, exercising regularly, and not smoking. We also know that these changes don’t just happen on their own. Laurence Girard, founder and CEO of FruitStreet – an online platform for lifestyle disease management – shares how telehealth tools for the dietician, nurse coach or lifestyle health coach are a game changer for reducing obesity and chronic diseases.

So why aren’t lifestyle interventions working? It takes 9 to 16 visits with a health coach for lifestyle interventions to start being effective. However, 50% to 60% of patients are not even showing up for appointments including for their initial visits.  There is the problem of low patient adherence, as in less than 10% make prescribed lifestyle changes. There is the problem of primary care physicians lacking the time to do the counseling and education needed to be effective. Then there is the problem of limited reimbursement for supporting lifestyle changes, such as the additional help of health coaches, dieticians, nurses, psychologists, etc.

Telehealth Provides the Tools To Make Lifestyle Changes

Telehealth makes health coaching more feasible. By bringing lifestyle intervention online, it eliminates the number one problem of just getting patients to show up. It also provides the tools for patients to share important data on their lifestyle habits – food intake, exercise, sleep, medication, etc., between visits when health really happens. Finally, it provides a platform for primary care physicians to easily refer patients to a health coach, dietician, or other support.

Medicare, Employers, ACOs, Physician Are Jumping Onto the Online Health Coaching and Lifestyle Intervention Movement

Moreover the landscape for telehealth intervention is changing. Starting 2018 telehealth visits will be covered via the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, more employer plans are covering telehealth visits and providing incentives to be healthier. ACOs are starting pilots that pay for telehealth, and the shift to outcomes-based health will push towards preventing and treating the causes of lifestyle diseases. FruitStreet itself is a grassroots movement spearheading this new area of online lifestyle coaching. It is 100% funded by individual physicians, where it has raised over $6M from 160 physicians since 2014, proving that physicians are not waiting around for venture capitalists or health systems to provide the telehealth tools that can help solve our obesity and chronic disease problems.

 

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ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Laurence Girard is the CEO & Founder of FruitStreet.com, a telehealth software company that provides software to healthcare providers that enables them to conduct HIPAA compliant video consultations with their patients and monitor their diet and lifestyle with wearable devices and mobile applications. Laurence is a former fellow of the Kairos Society, a highly selective global network of student entrepreneurs. He also volunteered in the emergency room at Huntington Hospital in Long Island, New York. Laurence is currently enrolled in the Bachelor’s Degree Program at the Harvard Extension School, but is taking time off from school to work on Fruit Street.

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