07 Sep The one that got away
Every year as the DEMO conference comes together, there’s always one or two companies that get away. They are great in their own right, but for one reason or another, they just are not able to say “Yes” to our invitation to launch at DEMO.
One such company is Nutrihand, which I met with earlier this summer. Founded by ex-Microsofter Soraya Bittencort, Mountain View, Calif.-based Nutrihand offers a comprehensive Web-based service that helps diabetics and their healthcare providers monitor and control the disease.
Through information, coaching and journaling, the site lets individuals see how their daily routines and habits affect their health. With this correlative analysis in hand, the site provides custom and incremental recommendations – from personal meal plans to fitness programs – to help customers change their habits for the better, and reduce the risk of serious health complications.
In creating Nutrihand, Bittencort and her small team spent four years researching the disease, recruiting as advisors leading doctors, nutritionists and other health care providers, acquiring nutrition information databases, and amassing a library of information on diabetes and diabetes management. (Bittencort first exhibited the ability to muster stunning amounts of information resources when she developed a very early travelogue CD-ROM on her home country of Brazil. That CD was the seedling that later became Expedia.) But the site is more than an encyclopedic collection of medical information, nutrition databases, and plan templates.
The site grew from Bittencort’s experience monitoring and controlling her own critical diabetes. Bittencort was diagnosed with diabetes in 1989, and she realized that if Nutrihand was to be successful, the service would have to be approachable, instructive, and – ideally – a link between the patient and the healthcare provider. Most of all, it had to be convenient. And here it succeeds especially well. The tracking tools are straightforward and require a minimum of input. The site supports automatic upload of data from glucometers. Data entry of food intake is simple; the site also lets users add favorite recipes and calculates nutritional values from the list of ingredients.
Feedback given is tremendously useful, letting users see the causal relationships between their actions and their health, and to quickly correct behaviors that have a negative impact on disease management.
While there is a sense of this site being very clinical, here’s something I never thought I’d say about a Web site – it’s profoundly human. The site exudes a sense of possibility and promise that no doubt comes from the company’s mission to improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes.
Sadly enough, this is no niche market. Some 6.3% of the U.S. population suffers from diabetes, and another 64 million are at risk of diagnosis within the next 10 years. Nutrihand – offered either directly to consumers or as a private-label service from healthcare providers – is well positioned to make those lives better.
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