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23andMe and Lark Health Collab for Personalized AI Digital Health Program


Do real-time data and wellness represent a new path for 23andMe?

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Direct-to-consumer genetic testing giant 23andMe has partnered with Lark Health, a company that uses artificial intelligence (AI)-augmented health coaching to aid chronic disease prevention, to add genetic data to Lark’s Wellness and Diabetes Prevention Programs, according to an announcement today.

The move represents an expansion of 23andMe’s business model, bringing its genetic data into daily health and wellness decision making. Until now, customers have primarily used this genetic information to understand their roots and health risks.

>> READ: Handling the Headaches of At-Home Genetic Testing

Lark’s programs already bring care to almost 2 million people through personalized AI coaching on their smartphones, which are designed to help users lose weight, improve overall wellness and help prevent Type 2 diabetes in at-risk patients. The collaboration will allow more than 5 million 23andMe Health and Ancestry customers to have access to this tech through the program.

The program provides personal care text messages that users can use 24/7. So instead of a patient visiting the doctor every couple of months to get their chronic condition checked, patients will have access to more tailored health information.

Julia Hu, CEO and co-founder of Lark Health, told Healthcare Analytics News™ that data are pulled from 75 different health monitors, like weight scales, blood pressure monitors and phone sensor data.

Hu believes this could be the next step in personalized healthcare.

23andMe conducted research on more than 400,000 customers and found genetic variants associated with an individual’s body weight, in addition to identifying lifestyle choices linked with the biggest weight difference in people with similar genetic information.

But what will the program look like?

Here’s one example: Using information from 23andMe’s genetic weight report results that rank the impact of certain foods on a customer’s weight, the health coach could make personalized recommendations for the user.

A user who might be at a diner will get a text message from the program asking what that person ate for lunch. The user can then respond to the message and say they ate a hamburger. But based on the genetic variants that 23andMe provided to the program, the message could respond and tell the user that they have a sensitivity to red meat, meaning red meat would not be the best option for weight loss.

The AI coach will also personalize recommendations based on other 23andMe reports like saturated fat and weight, lactose intolerance and sleep movement.

The program tracks sleep, exercise and medicine intake in real time.

By passively pulling in sleep data using smartphone sensors, the program can detect when a user is not sleeping well and then ask if the person is stressed. If the person is stressed, the program will go through meditation exercises with the user.

According to the announcement, Lark’s program has helped 75 percent of customers lose weight and nearly half have increased their activity levels by more than 25 percent.

But only 23andMe customers will be able to have coaching tailored to their genetic information. For users of the program to unlock that information, they must take a 23andMe genetic test, Hu told Healthcare Analytics News™.

“We really hope and believe that this is something that can impact millions — and in the future, tens of millions — in a very scalable way,” Hu said.

The program launches today.

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