LifeOmic apps approach 1 million downloads, help shape healthcare’s future
While politicians and pundits battle over access to healthcare and the ever-increasing costs, scientists and software experts at Indianapolis-based startup LifeOmic are working to disrupt the $8 trillion industry altogether and transform it into something different–wellness care.
“Healthcare is broken and the relationship we have with our doctor is going to fundamentally change,” said Don Brown, founder and CEO of LifeOmic. “In addition to everything else they’re dealing with, doctors are drowning in all of this data we are generating as patients, which means they simply aren’t using the data effectively, if at all.”
Patient data has grown exponentially as DNA and genomic testing has become more affordable and readily available to individuals. It’s where the company gets its name, too–LifeOmic was born from Don’s curiosity and passion for the potential yet to come in genomic discovery.
“We have to start taking responsibility for our own wellness. We have to start taking control of our data and become our own advocates,” he said. And taking control is what 850,000 users of LifeOmic’s mobile apps are doing alongside scientists at the Indiana Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), a research partnership among Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame. More information on this is included below.
Don Brown, of course, is well known in the tech community. He founded Software Artistry in 1988 which became the first software company in Indiana ever to go public and was later acquired by IBM for $200 million. Don then founded and served as CEO of Interactive Intelligence which went public in 1999 and was acquired by Genesys in 2016 for $1.4 billion. Don has a medical degree as well master’s degrees in computer science and biotechnology.
The latest venture, LifeOmic, began shortly after Don completed his biotech master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2017. (Incidentally, the idea came to him a year earlier while he was still CEO of Interactive Intelligence and brokering the $1.4 billion sale.) The initial focus of LifeOmic was to create what the company calls the Precision Health Cloud, providing CTSI scientists a HIPAA compliant and HITRUST CSF Certified cloud platform powerful enough to use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to crack the code on specific cancers.
“It makes sense if you think about it,” Don explained. “At Interactive Intelligence, we built one of the largest enterprise cloud applications in the world to manage the relationships and experiences of customers. At LifeOmic we’re taking a similar approach with this wealth of patient data, providing the platform and tools to make sense of it and put it to good use to benefit patients.”
The company has quickly grown to 70 employees, 55 of which are hardcore mobile and software developers, cloud architects, cyber security experts, PhD scientists, geneticists and bio mathemeticians. LifeOmic headquarters is located in the emerging technology center (formerly IURTC) on West 10th Street in downtown Indianapolis with satellite offices in Raleigh/Durham, NC, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
With Precision Health Cloud built and in use with major customers like Indiana University School of Medicine and AdventHealth Network in Florida, Don and his team began to realize the one thing missing from their platform was a direct line to the patient. Because electronic medical records are episodic and may only contain information from a few visits per year, the team started to explore ways to “stress test” their cloud and start to build direct patient/individual contact including ongoing, day-to-day activity and data.
“We decided to build a mobile app around intermittent fasting, which is a personal interest of mine and is backed up by sound medical science,” Don said. “Because the healthcare industry is littered with well-intentioned apps that nobody uses, we approached it differently and gamified it as well as socialized it and our intermittent fasting app really took off.”
A goal of 10,000 downloads of the app seemed like a pipe dream to the development team when they launched the first app a year ago. Last month LIFE Fasting Tracker topped 850,000 downloads including large followings of celebrity social circles like entrepreneur and former tech executive Sumaya Kazi, whose “Fast With Me by Sumaya” circle has 10,500 followers.
The surprise success of the intermittent fasting app, which is free to download, convinced the team that people are eager to access tools that are based on science, offer quality advice and are fun to use. A new app, LIFE Extend, includes the Fasting Tracker as one of five scientifically proven pillars of health (#5Pillars4LIFE) to help people live longer. Users can measure their progress and earn rewards with LIFE points, as well as connect with friends, family and others through social circles. Based on information provided–even including genetic testing, blood tests, etc.–LIFE Extend calculates a user’s biological age and estimated lifespan.
LifeOmic and CTSI recently announced a partnership to grow the Institute’s All IN for Health program. All IN for Health connects Indiana residents across the state with opportunities to improve their health and participate in research and clinical studies. LIFE Extend is included as a free download with All IN for Health.
“What’s important for people to know is that we don’t monetize their data,” Don said. “This isn’t about making money off of our app users, it’s about creating the cloud, which we’ve done, and providing tools to help people take control of their own health data and doing our part to shape the future of healthcare.”