The changing face of healthcare: Artificial intelligence, primary care, an empowered patients.
Rita Hitching, Founder Teen Brain
The health and wellness space is awash with information, some good, some bad, and some downright dreadful. As a researcher, my inbox is flooded daily with the latest scientific research on physical and psychological health. The buzz word of the moment is biome. I recently caught with Ella Mihov, the Founder & CEO of Lune, a California based wellness company with the objective of bringing the future of nutrition to the here and now. This is not Ella’s first rodeo, she was previously a Product Manager at Google, and Director of Health Vertical at Avasdi. With a B.A. in Biochemistry from Duke, and an M.B.A. from Wharton School of Business, Ella is well equipped for the task.
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Rita Hitching: What keeps you motivated as the Founder & CEO of Lune?
Ella Mihov: There is never a dull moment. Every day there’s a new exciting and rewarding challenge, I love people, and I’m passionate about solving their problems. Being told that those problems require technology or solutions that are near impossible, does not phase me — it propels me forward.
Hitching: What do you think is the biggest issue facing Americans today with regards to their heath?
Mihov: Time. Modern society moves fast, convenience, and speed are understandably king. The consequence of all the time pressure is its impact on our health, and nutrition. Regular consumption of calorie rich and nutritionally deficient fast food is unhealthy and at the center of a multiple medical problems. Even consuming healthy foods in a rushed manner doesn’t allow us to properly create the acidity in our stomachs to digest foods, and extract all the nutrients the food can offer. The stress mitigating aspects of sharing meals is obliterated in our fast-paced world. Making time to connect with others, sharing slow, balanced meals is the single most important way for people to reboot their relationship with food and to drive improved health outcomes. Nutrition related diseases cost America in excess of $1 trillion, primarily due to being responsible for chronic lifestyle diseases. It behooves us all to pay attention to how we can improve our nutrition.
Hitching: In what ways do you think we can incorporate all this vast data to offer real solutions to real Americans?
Mihov: We are in a world of increasing data, yet we still don’t have routine checkups on what’s going on in our bodies. We measure weight routinely, but not blood sugar — even though most of America is in metabolic disarray. We don’t measure our gut health, yet most Americans report gut issues and gastrointestinal issues as the #1 cause for customer visits, second only to back pain. We will also see increasingly more and more amounts of data, available from all manner of sources — wearables, tracking devises etc. Data science and will need to have a holistically approach to data interpretations, not just the number of hours slept but the quality of sleep. Overall, I foresee a disruption in primary care, where more testing will be done routinely, with an even greater focus on data based diagnosis and treatment.
Hitching: In light of the growing public knowledge about health, in what ways are consumers likely to adapt to ensure their optimum health in the coming years?
Mihov: I believe that consumers will increasingly become self-advocates in their approach to doctor visits, they will manage those visits as ‘conversations about their health’, rather than waiting to be offered a solution, that may or may not work for them. Consumers will be ever more comfortable asking their doctors about the various treatments, and requesting more in-depth discussion about the options offered. Telemedicine is already here and growing in presence, fast tracking diagnosis, testing, and treatment delivery. At Lune, we are facilitating access to high-end urine testing and providing clinical-grade supplements without the need to visit the doctor. We are not alone in this; other companies are offering medications online that Americans may be too embarrassed to ask their doctor for — think Viagra and hair loss medications. Fair warning to doctors, the growth of AI in diagnosis, the commoditization of testing, and online prescribing will change the health care space irreversibly.
Hitching: In your opinion what will consumables for optimum health look like in the near future?
Mihov: Consumer manufacturing companies are already producing functional foods and supplements. Americans are showing pill fatigue, no one wants to take 7 pill supplements every morning. It feels like work, and we are all already overworked. People prefer to ‘eat health’ rather than ‘swallow health’. Options like high fiber, high protein pastas, and fibrous probiotics that provided real improvements to gut biome will make significant inroads to solve the malnutrition and calorie rich diet that many Americans consume.
Hitching: PubMed is showing more and more research into improvements to gut biome, weight changes, and overall health. Where do you see clinical trials focusing?
Mihov: The $60 billion supplement industry will need to work more closely with clinical trials companies, and ensure that their offerings have greater clinical proof of efficacy. The biggest problems for consumers in deciding on what advice to heed, is the frequent contradictory evidence coming out of clinical trials. One study showing benefits, and another showing no improvement. Research on the impact of probiotics is gathering strength, and few will now disagree with the benefits of a rich gut flora. The impact on cholesterol reduction and probiotic supplementation is quite robust. I’m envisioning more regulation on wellness, including supplements, and additional reason for suppliers to want to differentiate themselves with supplements backed by clinical trial results (see more general news here).
Hitching: What’s in store for you and Lune for the remainder of 2019?
Mihov: Continuing to grow Lune, maintaining and growing our culture that as Rene Brown says ‘Dares Greatly’, remain focused on agile product development, acquiring customers, and doing all we call to improve the health of Americans. We are always looking for great people to join us, reach out.
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Brain science for teenagers. Neuroscience to empower teenagers on self-reliance, resilience, accountability and exuberance in children. www.teenbrain.info