Dr. Adam Kaufman shares his thoughts on diabetes and technology-enabled behavior change

Dr. Adam Kaufman is CEO of Canary Health. He uses his skills in business, software development, technical operations and healthcare industry economics to develop and implement technology-enabled behavior change and self-care support solutions. I spoke to Dr. Kaufman about his work in diabetes, and got his reactions to our One Drop | Premium subscription service. Here are some gems from our chat.

Tell me about your diabetes work with Dr. Kate Lorig at Stanford University.

Canary Health develops and deploys the digital versions of Dr. Kate Lorig’s diabetes programs. Dr. Lorig and her team studied 1200 people with type 2 diabetes. They gave people a group diabetes program digitally or in person. Groups helped people reflect on what matters, set action plans, and get support.

 

At 6 months, people with an A1C above 9% dropped their average A1C by .93%. They reduced hypoglycemic and depressive symptoms. They also improved their confidence, communicated better with their doctor, and were more physically active.

How does your academic training give you an edge?

My training helps bridge technology with evidence. The technology has to be great, but it’s insufficient to have great technology. You have to design studies that prove it works. Then you have to communicate the evidence in a way that’s meaningful to people.

How does technology make health promotion more effective?

Technology plays a role, but it’s a second order. You have to first resonate with people so that they own their journey. For us, cracking the code on engagement is about story telling. We want people to write their own story. And, see in what they’re doing – the arc of their own narrative that matters to them. We show people stories of someone else to get them there. The stories look like what you do without you having to make it your own.

 

A lot of this is executed with technology – audio, video, and tech helps with the entertainment quality. If Hollywood’s taught us anything, it’s that when this is done well, it’s incredibly powerful. It helps people see their story can be shaped the way they want, and then actually help them tell it.

 

Technology lets us push the limits — to have peers support each other, to have a virtual interaction with a clinician, to be able to electronically share data rather than physically come in to show it on a paper log. We couldn’t do what we do without it.

What’s the biggest drawback to digital health solutions?

When technology is supposed to help you do something, it can’t be another thing that you have to go do. Until we figure out how technology seamlessly fits into people’s lives, we’re going to struggle with that. I think we’re getting better, but we have a ways to go.

Our One Drop | Premium subscription service pairs our app, meter, and in-app coaching to ultra personalize self-care support. What’s your reaction to our Premium service?

That approach makes sense. We need to take devices and connect them to behavior change and coaching services. I can imagine how a combination of a modern meter tied into a personal health management app could be really powerful.

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Chandra Y. Osborn PhD MPH
Chandra Y. Osborn PhD MPH

Pre-diabetes free since 2011, Dr. Osborn's a mother, wife, and expert in diabetes health communication, disparities, self-care, and leveraging health tech to improve people's lives. She's been understanding, predicting, and promoting diabetes self-care since 2003, first as a scientist and now as VP of health and behavioral informatics at One Drop.