People to Know 2014: Sean Duffy
Sean Duffy is a self-described tech and design geek with a passion for health care—and he has the resume to prove it. He studied neuroscience as an undergraduate at Columbia University, got a job at Google, and wrote for medical technology website MedGadget.com. When, after his first year as a graduate student at Harvard University, Sean landed a position as a health and wellness specialist at premier design firm Ideo, he knew he’d found his calling
Sean feels so passionately about integrating health care with technology and design that he left his graduate studies to join two Ideo veterans in founding Omada Health. Along with a rapidly growing team, they are pioneering a new way for people to make healthy behavior changes.
“Digital therapeutics”—a term for the treatments used in the emerging field—transform face-to-face healthy-behavior therapies into immersive online experiences. Omada Health’s first foray into the digital domain is Prevent, an online program that helps people with prediabetes make the behavior changes that can help them avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes. The program is already in use by major health care organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, and Stanford Hospital & Clinics, and is also available for purchase by individuals or through certain insurance plans or employers.
Prevent is based on the Diabetes Prevention Program, a large randomized clinical trial that demonstrated that an intensive lifestyle change program could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent over three years. Prevent’s 16-week program is accessible through any Internet-connected device. Participants are guided by dedicated health coaches and provided with tools for monitoring their weight, food intake, and activity levels. They also benefit from constant group peer support: Real people, in real time, are available 24-7 to offer encouragement and feedback, which leads to a high level of involvement and accountability.
Sean believes behavior change is central to the future of chronic disease prevention and management. And through his and the Omada team’s innovation, Prevent is both accessible and affordable—and bringing us a step closer to combating diabetes.
Ronald Tamler, MD, PhD, MBA, CNSC, CDE, is an endocrinologist, diabetes educator, and expert in mobile health, such as smartphone apps for managing diabetes. He’s clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and associate professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.