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Lonny Stormo | Pops Diabetes Care Inc

Isn’t it convenient to have your own personal virtual coach that will help you track goals and be a pep of encouragement in your back pocket?

That’s the potential of AI when it’s integrated into the health care niche. Research suggests that AI can perform as well as, or better than humans at key healthcare tasks, especially in diagnosing diseases.

Putting it simply, virtual services are effective and convenient due to the range of benefits they offer. One such virtual health assistant ‘Mina’ launched by Pops Diabetes Care is very popular among people with diabetes.

Alongside Mina, the company is catering to a growing ecosystem of services, education, and sensors in order to reduce barriers to optimal health. Delivering this range of services effectively, Lonny Stormo, CEO, believes in creating solutions to help manage people’s health.

In an interview with Insights Care, Lonny talks about Pops Diabetes Care and how the company is catering to the needs of the healthcare niche.

Please brief our audience about your company, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as one of the most reliable companies providing diabetes solutions in the healthcare sector.

Pops, the Own Your Life® company, has commercialized an AI Self-care platform for chronic condition management, starting in the diabetes space. Pops provides individuals the resources to enable them to successfully care for themselves versus being remotely monitored. The platform is centered around Mina, an AI Virtual Health Assistant. Mina is built on proven medical science.

She uses the Transtheoretical Model of Change to assess how ready a person is to change healthcare behaviors, and her goal is to move you into maintenance. She assists in behavior change through Motivational Interviewing; a technique used for many years to help people make better healthcare choices.

All the solutions around Mina are curated to address specific reasons people say they cannot reach their diabetes goals. The number one barrier people state is not liking to test their blood sugar. The Pops Rebel meter is the simplest way to check blood sugar. The Rebel is 20% the size, very discreet, and less painful compared to glucose test kits.

The complete platform is sold as a subscription service for both D2C and B2B (through clients like Best Buy Health). It is being used in all 50 states and in Australia and has been published with positive clinical study outcomes.

Tell us more about your company, its offerings, and its stronghold in the healthcare space.

Where the traditional healthcare industry sees non-compliant patients that need to be monitored and managed, we see people that have not been given the tools and experience they need to manage their condition. So many other industries have successfully democratized into individual consumers’ hands through technology. People are no longer dependent on a travel agent to travel or on a banker to do their banking. Today, people can manage travel and banking themselves. Pops is a leader in enabling people with chronic conditions to do the same.

With the Pops’ Self-care platform, people with diabetes can manage their condition more successfully between their physician visits. In fact, our two years clinical study results demonstrated a sustained A1c (the clinical measure of blood sugar) drop of 1.3 points. This study outcome was published in January 2022 in the International Journal of Digital Health.

Additional sub-analysis in this study showed that 21 people had a baseline A1c above 7.0%, which is the level the American Diabetes Association recommends staying below. Those 21 people had an average baseline A1c of 10.1%, which means they were choosing not to manage their diabetes with current solutions. Over the two years of using Pops, they were able to drop their average A1c by 33% to an average of 6.8%.

These results show us that a better self-care solution is a viable alternative to patient management   Simpler self-care is what Pops provides to people with diabetes.

What are the core values upon which your organization is built?

Our tagline, which is a key element of our mission, is “Own Your Life®”, and I think this sums up what Pops is about in three simple words. We are not going to take care of you. Healthcare for chronic conditions can be more successful when we enable people vs monitoring and manage them as patients. In fact, we drive this home every day in our company by not allowing the word “patient” to be used. When people start owning their life by using the Pops Self-care platform, we refer to them as Owners.

We accomplish letting people take charge of their lives at Pops by constantly emphasizing that “It is all about the experience”. Nobody is motivated to be unhealthy. It is only a matter of how high of barriers they are willing to jump over to get healthy. If we lower the barriers that exist, more people will choose to manage their health.   That is a key premise of what we do. From how our app works to how we ship products, the user experience is in the front of each employee’s mind. This is especially important for the management of chronic conditions like diabetes because managing a condition like diabetes is a marathon versus a sprint. We need to keep people engaged through the entire marathon.

Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies has impacted the healthcare industry and how is your company adapting to the change?

So many other industries have successfully democratized their offerings into consumers’ hands through technologies available in our phones. People are no longer dependent on a travel agent to travel or on a banker to do their banking.

This megatrend of democratization is now happening in healthcare. This first started about ten years ago with the advent of activity trackers people began to wear and use to count steps. Both the advancement of people’s desire to take more control of their health and the availability of technology have accelerated this megatrend. We see people buying wearables to monitor everything from their heart rate variability to their brain waves.   The mobile health industry is projected to grow 30% CAGR over the next eight years.

As an established industry leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare sector?

Figure out your own unique way to sell your solution. It is not good enough to just have a better solution. The entire industry–from reimbursement to employer benefits plans–is set up to reinforce the current standard of care. This makes it very difficult for a new player to come in and try to sell even a “better” solution.

An entrepreneur needs to look at how their solution can create a unique selling proposition. Then the entrepreneur needs to break down the planned sales category into a very honed and specific set of target customers to more likely help the customer to understand the unique value proposition for them.

How do you envision scaling your company’s services in 2022 and beyond?

The Pops Self-care platform will evolve in two important directions. We will add more ecosystem partners around Mina to remove more barriers for people managing their diabetes and other chronic conditions. We have developed a list of barriers that people tell us to get in their way of managing their condition.

Our ecosystem partners are selected to eliminate those barriers. Don’t know what vitamin you should take? Mina will connect you to our ecosystem partner, Vous Vitamin. Don’t like to grocery shop for healthy foods? Mina will connect you to Sunbasket food delivery.   As we discover additional solutions, we will integrate those into Mina and our ecosystem.

Secondly, Pops is scaling the platform into chronic conditions related to diabetes, including weight control, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. New best-in-class sensors (e.g., blood pressure cuffs) will be added, along with new content for Mina to help people self-manage these conditions.