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“Huge opportunity” in sight, Iowa doctor evolves diabetes patient app

My Diabetes Home dashboard (above) shows users health care information about themselves and selected articles that may be relevant to them.

Thanks to perceptive thinkers in the world of health care, patients often turn to online resources for medical advice. Some visit WebMD for their five minutes of hypochondria – it’s natural – but Anuj Bhargava, M.D. (left) wants to streamline assistance for one rapidly growing segment of wellness: diabetes.

In 2009, Iowa State University contacted Bhargava, a Des Moines physician specializing in diabetes and technology, to research how living in an always-online world could benefit people with diabetes.

“I really found myself at this intersection of health care and technology,” Bhargava recently told Silicon Prairie News, “and I truly believe that there is a huge opportunity that lies in front of us.”

His vision for a comprehensive diabetes management platform took root, and independently Bhargava started to develop the tool that he felt his patients were lacking: a one-stop site for tracking medication information, blood glucose numbers and user-specific advice. He called the site My Diabetes Home, launching it in December 2011. Six months later, the startup released its companion app, MedSimple.

Earlier this month, My Diabetes Home revealed its latest product evolution – a redesign of its site that added new features and improved its user experience.

“Our previous site was just like everybody else, this is a complete transformation. This is really the vision of My Diabetes Home,” Bhargava said.

Now the site is a platform rather than a database. By providing users with personalized information alongside tools and an account-based system that synchronizes key information across desktop and mobile devices, Bhargava feels that his service could improve the ever-complex world of diabetes care.

“Diabetes is a complex, 24/7 disease, and there are many factors to manage,” he said. “When a patient goes to My Diabetes Home, they’ll be able to see a snapshot what’s meaningful to them.”

Some of the product’s key features include a dashboard where users can securely keep things like their medications and blood sugars current, a section that mirrors MedSimple by tracking the user’s pharmacies and savings plans, and articles on diabetes that are tailored to the user’s needs. Another feature, the Visit Optimizer, composes a unique print out (below) citing the patient’s medications, dosages and current numbers. The goal is to make checkups more efficient through preparation.

With a Visit Optimizer print out in-hand (above, example), Bhargava believes My Diabetes Home users should be able to get in and out of a patient checkup in 3-5 minutes.

Since the inception of this initiative, Bhargava’s team has grown to meet the development and marketing needs. For the day-to-day operations, My Diabetes Home relies on two full-time employees – Grant Awes and Rajendra Gollapudi – and employs anywhere from 25-30 part-time employees who help with things like testing and web design, Bhargava said.

The other contributors guide the medical accuracy of the platform. “One of our key differentiators is that we are able to provide people credible, unbiased and accurate information,” Bhargava said. “So I have several medical educators and pharmacists who have been working on the app as well.”

Bhargava is currently funding My Diabetes Home himself, but he has two revenue models planned. The first is an already launched app subscription ($1.99 per month and $14.99 per year) and the second is a future enterprise product that he said would save employers money.

The startup currently boasts 3,500 iOS downloads and 2,500 active online users. In the coming months, the My Diabetes Home team will work to build its userbase and make its user interface flow more seamless.

As for the creator of the platform, Bhargava said he sees himself as an information manager going forward, merging the most important aspects of diabetes care into a single platform. “Your diabetes is unique and your challenges are unique,” he said. “So this platform is just for you.”


Credits: Anuj Bhargava, M.D. photo courtesy of My Diabetes Home. Screenshot courtesy of My Diabetes Home.

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