Fruit Street Health launches employer advisory board to manage healthcare costs with digital health
Fruit Street Health is launching a new employer advisory board called Fruit Street Labs that will consist of benefits professionals from large employers and health plans across the country. The goal of Fruit Street Labs is to form a collaborative relationship between Fruit Street and employers so that they can jointly develop telemedicine and digital health solutions that address rising healthcare costs and chronic disease in employee populations.
Fruit Street Health offers a suite of telemedicine and digital health services to self-insured employers and health plans in areas such as diabetes prevention, diabetes management, 24/7 urgent care visits with physicians, virtual primary care focused on lifestyle medicine, and consultations with mental health professionals via live video chat. Fruit Street is funded by more than 500 physicians who have invested more than $25 million into the company since 2014.
Fruit Street CEO, Laurence Girard, said the company is well-positioned to address challenges Amazon Haven failed to address.
“At Fruit Street we firmly believe that there are two key strategies that can help employers reduce their healthcare costs and improve the health of their employee populations that Amazon Haven may have failed to address.
“First, in order to truly reduce healthcare costs we need to focus on preventing and treating expensive chronic diseases through diet and lifestyle modification, not with expensive medications alone. Most of the chronic diseases that drive healthcare costs such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are caused by poor diet and lifestyle. In many cases, lifestyle medicine can even reverse disease and result in a person eliminating their need to take certain expensive medication.
“Second, in order to help a person change their diet and lifestyle or receive timely medical care, the entire experience must be digital and delivered through telemedicine. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted this need. Millions of people realized that they preferred receiving care through telemedicine.
“Fruit Street Labs is an effort to work with employers to develop solutions that improve the health of their employees through the combination of telemedicine, lifestyle medicine, and other undiscovered areas. We are also open to developing digital health solutions in other areas that could benefit employee populations, but we truly believe that telemedicine and lifestyle medicine should be central to any health plan.
“The first requirement for an employer to join Fruit Street Labs is to participate in quarterly meetings with Fruit Street and other employers where collaborative discussions will take place regarding the development of digital health solutions that could benefit employers that are members of Fruit Street Labs. The second requirement for an employer to join Fruit Street Labs is that it must be willing to launch at least one of Fruit Street’s products in a free pilot to their population each year where new digital health ideas are tested. This allows Fruit Street to get feedback from actual patients/employees that will be used to improve these digital health products.”
Girard observed that despite significant fundraising activity in the digital heath sector, companies are not using that funding where it could provide the most value.
“A funny thing is happening in digital health. Entrepreneurs are raising huge funding rounds which they use to hire amazing software development teams and hire clinicians to help advise them on the development of their products. What they are not doing is getting input on a weekly basis from benefits managers who will ultimately make purchasing decisions.
“The goal of Fruit Street Labs is to develop and improve our products based on weekly feedback from benefits professionals who are the ultimate decision makers. The benefit to employers who join Fruit Street Labs is that they will be able to share with us their biggest healthcare problems and then our team of talented product development professionals and clinicians will develop customized digital health products for their populations. Fruit Street’s 500+ physician innovators will be available to the employers to help advise them on their healthcare issues. It’s a win-win. Employers get the digital health solutions (including free pilots) that they have always dreamed of and Fruit Street has happy customers.”
Fruit Street Labs is the perfect melting pot for building successful digital health solutions. It brings together benefits professionals, benefits consultants, physicians, digital health product development teams, and incorporates patient feedback in building successful digital health solutions. By getting input from every stakeholder in the employer healthcare ecosystem, Fruit Street Labs will be able to develop digital health solutions that are truly valuable to employers, employees, help to improve population health, and truly help to reduce healthcare costs.
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