Goodbye Professor, Hello Startup.

leaving academia for industry

I tend to forge my own path. I was the first in my family to go to college. I got a masters degree, a PhD, a second masters degree, and, finally my dream job: a tenure-track position at a prestigious university.

For 8 years, I was a professor, NIH-funded scientist, and sought after advisor. I led clinical trials and published over 90 peer-reviewed papers. I taught, mentored students, residents, post-docs, and junior faculty. I held national leadership positions. I led a team of bright and talented people doing, what often felt like, impossible health tech research. And I was right on the cusp of being tenured (i.e. I’d have job security until retirement).

Then, I did something I thought I’d never do: I walked away from it all.

I left prestige. I left my research, my team, and my mentees. I also walked away from a huge college benefit for my kids (70% off tuition at my university or 100% off if at a cheaper college anywhere in the country!). Not many people walk away from a highly-coveted academic position or from tenure they’re about to touch. If they do, it’s for another university offering the same benefits, if not more. Instead, I left for a startup, where nothing is guaranteed.

Say what?


Before starting my new job, I read an article in the New York Times. It was about economists leaving prestigious universities to join Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Uber and Airbnb.

So, why are people leaving academia? A few reasons:

Less bureaucracy. Academics spend more time jumping hurdles than getting their work done. Tech companies don’t have that red tape.

Big data. Academics waste time, money, and resources to collect enough data to say something interesting. Tech companies collect endless amounts of data by default and need people to leverage that data in meaningful ways.

Impact. In academia, people wait too long for their research findings to change the world. Tech companies move fast to impact the world today. #wearenotwaiting


I became a professor and scientist to help people. I wanted to discover, understand, mentor, and have a profound impact. I wanted to help people live healthier and happier lives.

For 15 years, I studied how to promote health. I built and tested health programs for people with diabetes. I wanted these programs to work and help as many people as possible.

But they helped only people in my research trials, and no one else. Why? Because it takes 17 years for research findings to have any impact in the real world, if at all. That’s just — Way. Too. Long.


Before 2008, I delivered health promotion in the most low-tech ways, with flip-charts, printed materials, and people — like community health workers, dietitians and certified diabetes educators. But in 2008, I realized the world was headed in a different direction.

As I held my first smartphone in my hands, I asked myself: “How can I use this technology to help people manage their health? And how can I do it more effectively and at greater scale?”

Health apps were just gaining traction, and developing one seemed out of reach for me and my small team. So, we built a website instead.


We built Diabetes MAP, a website to help people stick to their medication schedule, and spent years studying it. But, what you won’t find in my research articles is all the challenges we faced building Diabetes MAP. It was complicated, delayed, and frustrating.

My colleagues at other universities all agree: developing health tech in academia is slow and painful. It’s impossible to hire and retain the best and the brightest graphic designers, developers, and tech project managers. Some of the reasons for this:

They’re underpaid. Tech people can easily make six figures in the commercial world. In academia, you only make that much if you have a MD or PhD.

The environment stifles creativity. Tech people would rather work in creative environments and around like-minded people — in coffee shops or co-working spaces with others like them. Being bound to a cubicle from 9-5 doesn’t appeal to them, or anyone for that matter.

They want to use modern tools. Tech people expect to use the latest tools to get sh*t done. Tools like Slack, Trello, Basecamp, and Jira, instead of landlines, Outlook, or pagers (yes, these things still exist!).


Health tech innovations in academia are bootstrapped together, break, and have to be rebuilt over and over again. More headache, more expense, and more time… I came up with the idea of Diabetes MAP in early 2009, and it took 8 years to complete our research on it!

In those eight years, there were 15 versions of the iPhone, the launch of the iPad, the launch of the Apple Watch, and multiple versions of Android and PC. In 2009, a website seemed innovative and worth our time and resources. But, by the time we built and rebuilt it (three times!), and learned if it worked, people had moved on. What might’ve engaged people in 2009 is obsolete today. Today, Diabetes MAP would absolutely be an app, and not a website.


Engagement (e.g. responding to a website or app by opening it, clicking around, and coming back) in academic-made technologies is low. We don’t make technologies people want to use. It’s not our skill set. It’s not what we’ve been trained to do.

To develop apps and websites people love, academics have to work with people who DO know how to use technology to engage people: Graphic designers. Software developers. Tech project managers. People who understand design, development, and engagement, but don’t necessarily know how to use those skills to improve health behaviors and health outcomes. We need to team up for the magic to happen.


I’m hopeful the academic landscape will change… but, I just can’t wait.

Ten months ago, I left an academic dream job, a team of people and mentees I love, and a near-guarantee of tenure to join a health tech startup.

Why? Because they’re a team of people who understand design, development, and engagement and want players like me on deck to help improve health behaviors and health outcomes. We’re using the latest technologies to make managing diabetes simple, awesome, cost-effective, evidence-based… and we’re doing it right now.


Early On

The startup I work for is in NYC. I now travel to/from NYC one week per month, leaving my 2-year-old and 5-year-old at home in Nashville.

I work at a co-working space in a small room with 10 other people. I no longer have a corner office with an executive desk, 3 computer monitors, a Herman Miller chair, an administrative assistant, or an army of people doing things for me at the drop of a hat. It’s a lot different.

When I got back to Nashville after my first week in NYC, my husband wanted to hear all about it. “Well, I was the first in the office each day. Most get in at 10. The building’s water was out, so the toilets were plugged up. I went to the closest pharmacy to get a case of water and lugged it back to the team. Our tiny open space means we all get to listen to each others’ conversations, including contentious ones. And, finally, I have no idea what I’m doing beyond writing blog posts.”

The truth is, it took time for me to adjust.


Ten months later, I love what I’m doing. The pace is fast. The impact is faster, anecdotally and empirically.

One Drop is the startup I work for. One Drop’s products include a mobile app (One Drop | Mobile) with in-app coaching (One Drop | Experts) and a sexy glucose meter (One Drop | Chrome). One Drop is supporting the health and wellness of people with diabetes around the world. I was recently analyzing over 1 million pieces of raw data generated in one week’s time, and hyper aware of the awesomeness of how that data landed in my lap, instantly.

Just today, another user reached out to say he lowered his hemoglobin A1c from 14% (19.7 mmol/mol) to 6% (7 mmol/mol) in just four months. This is profound impact, but not unique. Favorable anecdotal feedback pours in, all. day. long. Such a gift!

Another gift is doing science – just faster. We’ve generated 8 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts (4 in press), have multiple manuscripts under review, and much more on the way. At the recent Society of Behavioral Medicine meeting we reported people using the One Drop | Mobile app with and without One Drop | Experts have dramatic blood glucose improvements.

The American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions start this week. We’ll be presenting exciting outcomes of an internal and external evaluation of the One Drop | Mobile app + One Drop | Experts program. The embargo lifts on June 10th, so stay tuned.


Two months after I left academia, a big box arrived at my doorstep. It was a gift from my former university. A wooden chair embossed with the university’s seal and a gold plate engraved with: “Wishing you the best from your colleagues.” It’s a chair given only after 25 years of service. I’m grateful for the thoughtful gesture. But, the chair is hard, uncomfortable, and reminds me of Diabetes MAP: another thing no one will ever use.

leaving academia for industry

PRO-TIP: How to use the new Notifications Inbox

Missed a notification? No problem!

Our new notification inbox stores them all for you. See your meds and glucose check reminders, motivational messages, and more. Just tap on the bell icon at the bottom of the home screen to see your notifications. *This feature is currently available on iOS devices only. 

Here’s how to enable notifications from One Drop

Go to Settings in the One Drop app. You can find Settings by tapping on the gear in the upper right corner of the home screen. In Settings, tap Notifications & Permissions.

  • Customize your notifications using the toggles next to the options listed.


If you haven’t ever enabled notifications before, tap Edit Notification Settings . You’ll be led to your phone Settings from here. Tap notifications. Then select the notifications you would like to receive by using the toggle next to each.


PRO-TIP: Become a Food Logging Master

Track your food with just a few taps! We’ve made it easier to search, save, and log your meals.

The latest version of One Drop | Mobile makes food logging a breeze! You can now categorize meals by meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack), easily search the food library, add foods/recipes from your Saved Foods, and sort all your saved foods/recipes. Read on for more details!


How to Sort Saved Foods

In the food logging screen, tap on “Saved Foods.” Your Saved Foods can be sorted by recently logged meals, name of food (alphabetic order) or meal group.


How to Log a Meal the Fast Way

We have also made it easier to select and log meals in the food library. Search and add items to a meal, then choose to “Log Now” to log right away or “Add & Continue” to continue adding more foods.



How to Save Favorite Foods

To add a meal to “My Foods” from the food library, enter all components of the meal and then select “Add & Continue”. Then enter the name of the meal below the dial and save.


And that’s it! Now you’re a food logging pro. Still have questions? Drop us a comment below and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Mobile Check-Up: Are health apps replacing doctors?

Do you trust your favorite health apps more than your physician? Advanced technology and a struggling healthcare system has left millions looking to smart phones for guidance. Find out what makes apps awesome and how One Drop | Mobile can help keep YOU on track & out of the doctor’s office.

Everyone is using health apps!

Millennials and Baby Boomers alike are driving the growing demand for mobile fitness & health apps. There are more than 250,000 mobile health (mHealth) apps available. As a result, the download rate for these global mHealth apps nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015. It’s not slowing down!

2/3 of all Americans say they are willing to use a mobile app to manage their health.

What should you look for?

80% of all mobile apps are deleted after just one use! People like you are looking for quality content and a consistently exceptional user experience. So, what makes the ideal health app?

Appealing Appearance

First impressions are everything. An app can only affect a user’s health behavior if they enjoy using it! Therefore, successful apps have a user interface that is uniquely branded and beautifully designed.

Easy to Use + Affordable

A mHealth app should be easy to install and use, and should come at little to no cost to the consumer. With hundreds of thousands of options on the market, users don’t have the patience for complicated apps. Quality apps are intuitive and ideally free!


Many people are driven by a desire to control their own destinies and they see mHealth apps as a tool for achieving a happy, successful life. The most common motivators for using an mHealth app are tracking and reminders related to diet, medications, symptoms, and physical activity.


Successful apps are constantly evaluating and meeting the users’ changing needs. New features, bug fixes, and streamlining operations keep customers satisfied.

Content that Connects

Health is personal, therefore mHealth apps should include content that connects to users. Content should convey health knowledge, how to apply that knowledge, and establish a community for open discussion.

Helpful Customer Support

Not every mHealth user is tech-savvy. Users who need help should have a place to turn to! A winning app has a friendly and knowledgeable customer support team to answer questions ASAP.

One Drop | Mobile

One Drop | Mobile app

In 2016, healthcare costs rose by the most in 32 years. With the prices of medications, doctor appointments, and health insurance on the rise, the public needs quality mHealth apps to stay on track. Put away your checkbook. One Drop | Mobile has your back!

✓ Sleek and modern interface.

✓ Easy to navigate, with step-by-step instructions for new users 🙂

✓ Frequent updates for iOS and Android.

✓ Log your daily activities, and see the relationships that food, medications, and activity have with glucose levels.

✓ See REAL results. One Drop | Mobile users have experienced 1.0% reduction in A1c in as little as 2 months.

One Drop | Mobile improves A1c

“The improvement in A1c we’ve seen among our users is often achieved with drugs, but rarely, if ever, seen with self-care interventions.” – Jeff Dachis, Founder and CEO of One Drop

✓ Learn how others in the One Drop community navigate their daily lives, from one good glucose reading to the next. Share your own stories and find support!

✓ 24/7 Customer Support Team to happily answer your question in 24 hours or less!

What are you waiting for? Kick-start your health with One Drop | Mobile TODAY.

One Drop | Experts Becomes the First Digital Diabetes Education* Program Recognized by the American Diabetes Association

Company announces that its mobile diabetes education and coaching program, One Drop | Experts, is the first digital diabetes education program recognized by the American Diabetes Association for Quality Self-Management Education* and Support.

April 18, 2017 — New York, NY — One Drop today announced that its mobile diabetes education and coaching program, One Drop | Experts, has been Recognized by the American Diabetes Association for Quality Self-Management Education* and Support. One Drop | Experts is the first and only digital therapeutics program to receive this recognition, identifying One Drop | Experts as meeting the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (NSDSMES).

“One Drop is proud to be the first digital diabetes self-management education program awarded recognition by the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes is a complex condition that requires daily management and ongoing support,” said Dr. Mark Heyman, Vice President of Clinical Operations & Education. “One Drop | Experts uses mobile technology to deliver diabetes education and support to people wherever they are, whenever they need it, in a way the traditional healthcare cannot. It has been incredible to see our users gain confidence and feel empowered in their diabetes management while reducing their A1c as a result of using One Drop | Experts.”

According to the latest statistics from the American Diabetes Association, there are 29.1 million people with diabetes in the United States, with nearly 1.4 million more people diagnosed each year. In 2012, the total economic burden of diabetes was estimated at $245 billion per year, up from $174 billion just 5 years earlier. With fewer than 20,000 Certified Diabetes Educators in the United States, it is impossible to meet the demand for diabetes education via traditional in-office interactions.

One Drop | Experts is a clinically-validated, scalable diabetes education and coaching program delivered entirely through the One Drop | Mobile app. The “Experts” are Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) who work one-on-one with people with diabetes, providing personalized educational content and insights, as well as ongoing support, encouragement and accountability. One Drop | Experts is uniquely engaging, combining the use of mobile technology, real-time health data, and human support to empower people with diabetes to take an active role in self-care and achieve healthier outcomes.

“This recognition represents adherence to the current and evidence-based National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES),” said Jo Ellen Condon, RD, CDE, managing director, Education Recognition Program at American Diabetes Association. “Education utilizing digital technology will greatly assist in increasing quality DSMES access and potentially help decrease education disparities in locations that do not have traditional programs.”

Just last month, One Drop reported findings from a retrospective study demonstrating that One Drop | Mobile app users report a substantial improvement in glycemic control, reducing A1c by 1.0 percentage point after using One Drop | Mobile for as little as two months. One Drop also reported initial findings from a retrospective clinical study demonstrating that after only four weeks, people with diabetes using both One Drop | Mobile and One Drop | Experts:

  • reduced average blood glucose from 185 mg/dL (A1c 8.1%) to 158 mg/dL (A1c 7.1%);
  • reduced average percentage of high blood glucose readings from 19% to 4%;
  • nearly doubled the number of in-range blood glucose readings; and
  • consistently tracked food and blood glucose over time.

In June, One Drop will present the results of its recently-completed clinical study evaluating the effectiveness of One Drop | Mobile and One Drop | Experts at the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions. To date, One Drop | Mobile users have contributed over 235,000,000 primary health data points toward better understanding diabetes, which One Drop analyzes to deliver powerful insights that drive behavior change, cost savings, and better health outcomes for people with diabetes.

“We’re thrilled the American Diabetes Association has chosen to recognize One Drop | Experts. We are the first and only digital diabetes education program that meets its extremely high standards in all fifty states in the U.S.,” said Jeff Dachis, Founder and CEO of One Drop. “One Drop | Experts is a highly scalable, well-designed, evidence-based, data-driven diabetes solution that provides cost-effective, comprehensive diabetes education to anyone, anywhere in the United States and, soon, anywhere in the world.”

Arlene Hambrick, a One Drop | Experts participant from Illinois who has used the program since September 2016, is just one of hundreds of people to have succeeded with the program. “For the first time in my life I actually feel supported by a professional,” said Ms. Hambrick. “I’m understanding this disease much better now and I have a better sense of what I must do to control it.”

One Drop (Informed Data Systems Inc.) is a digital health company harnessing the power of mobile computing and data science to transform the lives of everyone with diabetes.

One Drop’s offerings include the first-ever monthly subscription service to provide clinically effective, affordable, accessible diabetes care. For less than the cost of a monthly co-pay, One Drop subscribers receive:

  • One Drop | Chrome with Unlimited Testing Supplies: One Drop | Chrome not only meets the highest standards of clinical accuracy, but also wirelessly transmits blood glucose data directly to the cloud via the One Drop | Mobile app for iOS and Android. Unlimited blood glucose test strips are delivered on-demand directly to the doors of One Drop subscribers — no prescriptions, no insurance, no appointments, and no hassles.
  • One Drop | Experts for Anytime Care: One Drop | Experts moves diabetes education out of the clinic and into the lives of people with diabetes. Each One Drop | Premium subscriber has his/her own “Expert” (Certified Diabetes Educator) available 24/7 for guidance, support, and anytime care. Experts deliver personalized digital therapeutics programs, including ADA-recognized diabetes education*, to help people with diabetes define and achieve their health management goals. Subscribers can communicate with their Experts anytime via in-app chat; all data recorded in the app is available to Experts in real-time, allowing them to provide relevant behavioral guidance in the moments when subscribers need it most. No appointments necessary.
  • One Drop | Mobile: One Drop | Mobile is an award-winning, cloud-based diabetes management solution delivered entirely via mobile app on iOS and Android. One Drop | Mobile provides real-time and historical blood glucose data and analytics to subscribers and their healthcare providers, allowing both to see relationships between specific health behaviors and health outcomes. One Drop | Mobile also includes a fully-featured Apple WatchOS app for logging and analyzing diabetes data on the go. One Drop | Mobile is the only diabetes management platform that offers comprehensive self-care, peer-support, and expert support all in one place.

One Drop also offers an enterprise solution, One Drop | Professional, for insurers, health care provider networks, and self-insured employers to dramatically lower the cost of caring for people with diabetes.

The One Drop | Mobile solution is available for free worldwide. One Drop | Chrome is sold exclusively by One Drop (iOS, Android, and, Amazon (, and Apple ( One Drop’s consumer subscription service is available for purchase in-app (iOS and Android) and at For more information, contact

*The American Diabetes Association recognizes this education service as meeting the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support.

Press Contact
Rachel Sanchez-Madhur


DCDE Twitter Chat: People want more from diabetes education!

DCDE Twitter Chat

When you think about where to get information about diabetes, does Twitter ever come to mind? If not, I would encourage you to check it out. Twitter has a really active community of people with diabetes who are friendly and ready to help. In fact, every Tuesday from 9-10p Eastern, Diabetic Connect hosts a Twitter chat (#DCDE) with a different topic and guest each week. Last week, the One Drop | Experts team joined #DCDE for a twitter chat called Diabetes Eduction Goes Mobile: Increasing access and improving outcomes through remote CDEs. We got to hear what about diabetes education has been helpful and what’s not been helpful and what folks would really like to get from a diabetes educator.

A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) is a licensed health professional who specializes in diabetes and diabetes management. CDEs help people understand and manage their diabetes.

The discussion was fast and furious, and we sure learned a lot. You can read the whole chat by going to Twitter ( and typing #DCDE in the search box. Here are the most important things I took away from this Twitter chat:

  • People with diabetes don’t see a CDE often enough: Most people tweeted that they rarely see a CDE as part of their regular diabetes care. After they are diagnosed, the only time that many people ever see a CDE is when they start on an insulin pump or CGM. People want more access to CDE as part of their regular diabetes care.
  • It’s not easy to access diabetes education: Speaking of getting more access to CDEs, most people don’t have easy access to a CDE. This is because the don’t know where to find one, there is not one close by, or their insurance won’t pay for the visit.
  • Relationship is key: Having an ongoing, supportive relationship is a key part of good diabetes education. A good relationship with a CDE makes diabetes education personalized. It lets people talk about their struggles, set goals, and have the CDE hold them accountable. If people don’t have regular contact with a CDE, this just isn’t possible
  • Data + diabetes education: If a CDE had access to a person’s diabetes data, including blood sugars, food and activity, they would be able to give valuable feedback that the person with diabetes could use right away. A lot of people wished they had a CDE with that kind of access.
  • Diabetes education should be empowering: I was surprised by the number of people who talked about experiences with CDEs who they felt were judging them rather than supporting them. This is not ok – diabetes education is about support and problem solving, not negativity and judgment.
  • Focus on emotions: Diabetes education is more than carb counts and insulin doses. Living with diabetes can be stressful and people want their diabetes educator to understand this and work with them to overcome their emotional struggles – or at least point them in the right direction.

From this Twitter chat, it was clear that many people with diabetes want things from diabetes education that they are not currently getting. Many of the issues that came up in this conversation were what the One Drop team was thinking about when we developed One Drop | Experts, and I think we’ve done a really good job at tackling these challenges. One Drop | Experts gives you access to a CDE whenever you need it, wherever you at an affordable price. We know that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your Expert works to get to know you, so they can support and empower you on your diabetes journey. We use your data to help, not judge, you, and we get that diabetes is a lot more than just numbers.

If you are like many of the folks we chatted with on Twitter and want more out of diabetes education, I would encourage you to give One Drop | Experts a try!

You can also follow One Drop and some members of our team on Twitter for lots helpful information about diabetes!






Mobile Health is the Solution: Pearls from experts in diabetes & minority health

Experts in Diabetes & Minority Health

Studies suggest tablet-, app-delivered, and text messaging programs improve self-care and glycemic control. Most programs are tested with people who are more affluent, educated, and White. Few have been designed for and tested with more high-risk groups who are more likely to have diabetes and its consequences.

The recent Society of Behavioral Medicine meeting brought together behavioral scientists in industry and academia with expertise in diabetes, tech, and minority health. As one of them, I chaired a session on “Leveraging technology to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people with diabetes: A review, examples, and recommendations.”

Pearls from experts in diabetes, tech, and minority health

Dr. Monica Peek is Associate Professor of Medicine & Associate Director of the Center for Diabetes Translational Research at the University of Chicago. She’s leveraged technology to improve diabetes care and medical outcomes for people with diabetes on the South Side of Chicago. Dr. Peek presented a review of research on digital programs for people with diabetes who were of low socioeconomic status, a member of a minority group, or had limited literacy/numeracy skills.

    • She reported 11/12 text messaging intervention studies published from 2010-2015 reported glycemic control improvements.
    • Few had a control group needed for causal conclusions.
    • According to Dr. Peek, “A tailored digital touch with a human touch and coaching appears to work best.”

Dr. Lindsay Mayberry is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When I left Vandy to join One Drop, Dr. Mayberry took over my NIH-funded trial evaluating a text messaging program for people with type 2 diabetes in safety-net clinics throughout Nashville, TN. Dr. Mayberry presented that trial’s 3 arm design: (1) non-tailored text messages, (2) tailored text messages, (3) tailored text messages with coaching.

    • The trial requires daily engagement for 9 months. At 3 and 6 months, over 80% of participants are engaged.
    • According to Dr. Mayberry, “We attribute high rates of engagement to sending participants hand-written birthday cards, swag, monthly newsletters with recipes, expert advice, and research findings.”
    • “The experience of being a research participant must be ultra-personalized. When you care, you have to show it.”

CYO-mobileHealth-bodyDr. Courtney Lyles is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at UCSF’s San Francisco General Hospital and Center for Vulnerable Populations. She’s using tech to improve patient-provider communication, diabetes self-management, and reduce disparities in health. Dr. Lyles used tablets and user-centered design strategies to improve the experience of completing forms and answering questions during clinic intake.

    • She iteratively worked with users to simplify and make visual patient questions and response options.
    • The adaptation process resulted in high rates of satisfaction and completion rates.

Dr. Brian Oldenburg is Professor and Chair of Non-Communicable Disease Control and the Director of the Centre for Health Equity in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. His work has led the way (inter)nationally in the development and evaluation of new technologies and mobile programs to improve health. Dr. Oldenburg was the discussant of this session.

    • According to Dr. Oldenburg, “More digital diabetes programs should be developed and evaluated in lower and middle-income countries.”
    • He also acknowledged, “Developing digital diabetes programs everyone can access & use is really challenging.”
    • All speakers and attendees nodded in unison.

Experts in diabetes and minority health

Cell phones let us reach everyone

Cell phones are ubiquitous and powerful. People in lower and middle income countries use them. People in higher income countries at highest risk of diabetes and everything that follows use them too. Apps like One Drop are delivering education, support, strategies, and tools to keep people healthy.

We need to make sure everyone who needs diabetes education and support gets it. Only then can we reduce diabetes disparities, and their human and economic burden.

Five Things I Learned at SBM This Year

Last week, I joined many of the top scientists in health behavior and behavioral medicine in San Diego for the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Annual meeting. I got to hear about the latest research on the relationship between behavior and health. Like most of the conferences that I go to, you learn a lot by going to the sessions, and you learn even more by watching and observing what’s going on, both in and outside the sessions. I want to tell you about the five things that I took away from SBM this year.

1. Digital Health is the future, and the future is now: It was awesome to see how much work is being done to show how helpful digital health tools (like One Drop) are in helping people change their behavior and make healthier choices. Several years ago, we thought that digital health was the future, and this conference was proof that the future has arrived! It’s really exciting to see how far we’ve come in just a couple of years and to think about where we’ll be a couple years from now.

2. Health researchers can’t work alone: If we really want to make a big impact, health researchers need to surround ourselves with people with different skills. I talked to a lady who told me she is developing some kind of health app. When I asked her who was developing the app, she said that she was writing the code herself. As she told me more, it was clear that, while her ideas were good, the app was not at all user-friendly. If we are going to do research that helps people, we need to work with people who can help us build the tools to do it well. As health researchers, we have a lot of knowledge and skills. There’s also a lot of knowledge and skills that we need and don’t have. In order to make the best ‘product’, we need to work closely with people who can help us do that.

3. Communication is key: The ways that researchers let other people know about the research that we’re doing is changing – and this is a good thing. Not too long ago, the only way we let people know about what we learned in our research is by publishing the results in journals. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals is still really important because it keeps us honest in doing good research, but have you ever tried to read a journal article? It’s not always easy. As health researchers, we need to talk about our research not only in journals, but also in places and ways the average person can understand it. We need to use tools like blogs and social media to tell people about the things we discover in ways that are simple and easy to understand.

4. We need a way to get research into the real world: There are lots of really smart people doing a lot of important research on how to improve health behaviors. The problem is, once the study is over, the information doesn’t go anywhere. If we find something that works, it’s really important that we find ways to make it available to the people who really need it, and that doesn’t always happen. We need to find ways to make the things that we find work available to as many people as we can. Researchers need to think outside the academic box and partner with companies, non-profits and health care providers to make sure their great work is being used.

RSM-SBMpressRelease-featureImage5. One Drop works!: I’ve known about One Drop’s research findings for a while now, so technically this isn’t something that I learned at SBM. Our team presented research at SBM showing 1% improvement in self-reported A1c from a baseline of 8.2% in 1,372 people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes using the One Drop Mobile app. We are going to be presenting a lot more exciting research in June at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. Stay tuned!

At SBM this year I was reminded that as a community, we’re doing a great job at finding ways to help people change their behavior and be healthier, especially using digital tools. But we have a responsibility to do more than just good research. We need to work with others to make tools that are well designed and easy to use. We need to talk about our findings in ways that are simple and relatable. We need to make sure that our research doesn’t just sit on a shelf, but is used in the real world.

I also was excited to discover that One Drop is leading the way in many of these areas – and I am excited to see what the future holds!

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.