Long-term health management of metabolic and chronic diseases is the largest cost burden on the U.S. healthcare system. Basys.ai, founded by Amber Nigam and Jie Sun in June 2021, is a “B2B SaaS platform supporting clinical decision-making for doctors at hospitals” by using deep learning algorithms. Currently, the startup has been bootstrapped since inception. Basys is based in Cambridge, MA.
The startup has six employees. Basys’s main competition are firms like Omada Health, Virta Health and Innovaccer. Their business model is tailored to meet the needs of B2B customers such as providers and payors by selling access to their software. John L. Brooks III, Founder of Insulet and a Basys.ai advisor, says, “Diabetes remains a global crisis, despite the many advances in new therapeutics and smart devices.
AI is poised to deliver a profound impact in the treatment of diabetes. The surge in relevant healthcare data can now be harnessed to provide insights and clinical decision support recommendations that enable individuals and their clinical team to optimize their treatment. basys.ai is strongly positioned to lead this effort, given their strong team and robust AI platform, and they have already achieved great traction in a short time.”
Frederick Daso: What drives the significant share of diseases caused by metabolic health issues?
Amber Nigam and Jie Sun: It starts with the food that we eat here in the U.S. American-style diet doesn’t help as people gorge on burgers, fries, and soda. Diabetes is one factor that drives a significant share of diseases as it is usually concurrent with other chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases and chronic kidney diseases.
Daso: What impact are these metabolic health issues impacting the greater U.S. healthcare system?
Nigam and Sun: At a macro level, metabolic health issues burden the U.S. healthcare system. Also, the doctors and hospitals are swamped with avoidable work, and patients have long queues to be treated, directly contributing to bad patient outcomes. The total spending on metabolic health issues (including chronic conditions and mental health) is 90% of the total spending on US healthcare. At a micro level, patients and their caregivers do not have personalized guidelines. So, they face anxiety and stress managing their or their loved ones’ diseases.
Daso: How do doctors and hospitals leverage AI-based solutions in their standard of care for patients today?
Nigam and Sun: There are legacy Electronic Health Record (EHR) companies that provide some boilerplate services. Although, doctors and hospitals are increasingly becoming more aware of the importance of data. Many hospitals we work with have been proactively searching for AI collaboration and accounted for that in their annual budgets. Interventions at the providers’ side, or ‘prescriptive analytics,’ is the key to this paradigm shift in managing metabolic health.
On another note, we should also remember that payors are indispensable players in this paradigm shift. Payors will benefit greatly from AI-based solutions, especially those derived from a large amount of clinically-validated data—the insights from both EHR data and claims data complete a patient’s profile. We understand individual patients’ progression patterns better by adding longitudinal depth to their health history.
Daso: Specifically, how much money is spent annually through insurance or out-of-pocket costs for treating metabolic diseases such as diabetes?
Nigam and Sun: The annual cost of diabetes in the US is $327 billion. Most of that cost is borne by payors in the US, which means a great unmet need for more cost-effective solutions based on prescriptive analytics. The solution will come from combining insights from the EHR data with the claims data, i.e., we understand individual patients’ progression patterns better by adding longitudinal depth to their health history.
Daso: How have you built Basys to seamlessly integrate with providers’ existing workflows and processes to treat patients suffering from metabolic diseases?
Nigam and Sun: We have been conscious that our service can be used with/without EHRs, given the long wait time for integrating with traditional incumbent EHRs. We have a scalable and interoperable platform that can integrate with any hospital and payor system.
Daso: What are the challenges in validating Basys’s deep learning algorithms concerning how a patient’s metabolic health evolves with proper treatment?
Nigam and Sun: The first adoption of good habits – although to derisk it, we are partnering with the changemakers, the doctors, and the insurance. The second is gathering microdata like food and exercise – one derisking strategy is partnering with device and hardware companies, although food is still a tough entity to measure. Our access to the largest and most clinically validated healthcare datasets gives us an essential competitive moat.
Besides, the founders’ backgrounds in health Data Science from Harvard and their work experience in the health ecosystem of Boston is a strong value add too. Last, we have attracted some of the best people in healthcare, including business leaders who have led the largest diabetes institute globally and have founded multi-billion dollar startups. All these factors help drive down the challenges and risks typically associated with the slow and regulated nature of the healthcare industry.
Daso: For Basys’ company culture, how will the startup maintain its flat hierarchy and autonomy-driven environment while scaling up to address the needs of a heavily-regulated and structured industry?
Nigam and Sun: We have a hiring policy that places integrity and ethics on top. In addition, the passion for innovating and creating an impact in healthcare is crucial. It is about teaming up with the right people and providing them with the right platform to shine.
We spent significant time with our team members in building their capacity and being aligned. The vision is to forge a resilient company culture, fearless of challenges, and always on the forefront of creating excellent solutions. Most importantly, we are united by our commitment to making healthcare better for everyone.
I write extensively on college students’ triumphs and failures in their journeys in entrepreneurship. I graduated from MIT with my Bachelor’s and Master’s in
Source: Two Harvard Students Revolutionize Diabetes Treatment On A Regular Basys
Critics by Anne Peters, MD, Professor of Medicine
Imagine standing on a ledge with your eyes closed, not knowing if your next step forward is to go plummeting downwards or continue climbing up a wall. That is what it is like to have insulin-requiring diabetes and monitor your blood sugar levels just 4 times per day. Insulin is one of the most powerful medications we use, yet is subject to more variation in response than almost any other treatment.
Inject too much, exercise more than usual, or eat too little and blood sugar levels can fall fast and hard, at times to the point of a loss of consciousness. Too much carbohydrate causes glucose levels to skyrocket back up. Any patient taking insulin will tell you that it is tough being a surrogate pancreas. An emerging technology called continuous glucose monitoring is making life a little easier.
Patients insert a small sensor under the skin which beams an infrared signal to a receiver where the blood sugar levels are displayed. The pager-like receiver reveals what the blood sugar level is and in which direction it is going. A “normal” blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL that is rising quickly requires a different action than a blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL that is falling quickly. More importantly, these devices alarm at night, alerting patients to potential hypoglycemic reactions.
However, all advances come with a price, which includes taking the time to learn and understand this device. Continuous glucose monitoring suddenly provides up to 1440 daily blood glucose values and it might not reduce A1C levels, because both rates of highs and lows are reduced, leaving the average blood sugar the same. But this technology is worth the price of learning.
It is new, imperfect, and somewhat cumbersome, yet it stands to help patients with diabetes lead less precarious lives. And ultimately it may evolve into a true “closed loop” system that will make the guesswork of insulin administration a thing of the past. That’s my opinion. I’m Dr. Anne Peters, Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine.
Study: Better Blood Sugar Control in Teens Limits Diabetes-Related Brain Damage
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