The Silicon Review
“We transform the most trusted source of health and wellness information into an engaging digital consumer format and make it available to our partners for use with their populations.”
Some of the most important aspects of healthcare are wellness, prevention, and chronic disease management. It is important for everyone to work consciously on maintaining their health, yet most people don’t know the intricacies of wellness, healthy lifestyle habits, disease prevention, and chronic disease management. Because our health system is not geared toward educating people on the important aspects of maintaining their health and managing their chronic conditions, people tend to go to the Internet for information. This is problematic as the Internet is full of unsubstantiated findings or misinformation that can lead people down the wrong path and can affect whether people decide to see a doctor, which one they see, and what other interventions they might pursue to protect their health. This is why it is so important for people to have digital access to a trusted source of health and wellness information that is expertly vetted, comprehensive, and current.
ConnectWell is a leading-edge provider of digital health and wellness content that is academically sourced and designed for a consumer audience to engage people in their total health and well-being including: disease management, disease prevention, and the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits. Many of the most common chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity are caused not by viruses, bacteria or physical contact with people, but by unhealthy lifestyles. ConnectWell’s suite of health and wellness content provides comprehensive education on managing a wide range of diseases and lifestyle habits that help in treating those conditions and in helping people maintain their overall health.
In Conversation with the Founder and CEO of Connectwell, Andrea Bloom
Q. What was the motivation to launch ConnectWell?
ConnectWell was founded to provide an add-on service to complement healthcare benefits so that employees could engage in healthy lifestyle practices to manage and improve their own health and well-being. Access to healthcare benefits and doctor visits are not enough by themselves to keep people healthy. The ten-plus years I spent in the diabetes device industry left a profound impact on me. Disease management practices for people with Type 2 diabetes are very similar to healthy lifestyle practices everyone should follow. For example, eating whole foods, minimizing added sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, adding movement to your daily activity, sleeping eight hours a day, and managing stress are all helpful to remaining healthy. People need to learn self-care practices well in advance to prevent chronic disease in order to stay healthy.
Q. Please describe the early stages of ConnectWell
I first assembled a team of experts to form ConnectWell’s Scientific Advisory Board to support a wide range of disease, health and wellness topics including: healthy eating, nutrition, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, physical activity, stress management, sleep, and maternal health. The ConnectWell team, along with our Scientific Advisory Board, developed Wellness Initiatives for the workplace as part of an overall worksite wellness program. Wellness Initiatives included experiences designed to engage employees in their health and well-being through the use of walk-through Exhibits, and onsite and take-home Challenges and Tools.
Our Wellness Initiatives were very well received, and we wanted to find a way to scale our offering to reach more people with the new technology tools that are part of everyday life. Digital technology enables people to access information anytime, anywhere. And with so many people working remotely, wellness programs delivered onsite excluded a large segment of the workforce. We realized that digitizing our offering would allow us to reach many more people with our health and wellness resources and ultimately empower more people to engage in their health.
Q. How has your company grown over the years?
While we were scaling our Wellness Initiatives digitally, I met with leadership at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health to bring their extensive collection of health and wellness publications to a wider audience. Their publications were the ideal complement to our Wellness Initiatives. Given that several of our Scientific Advisory Board Members were on the faculty at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco Medical School, it was a great match.
In 2017 ConnectWell formed a public-private partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health to “consumerize” and “digitize” its vast collection of health and wellness content for distribution through a wide range of health delivery platforms. These include worksites, benefits providers, healthcare providers, insurance plans, telemedicine and health coaching providers, and wellness engagement platforms.
Q. Can you explain the contents of ConnectWell’s offerings?
ConnectWell’s Digital Health & Wellness Content offering is comprehensive and includes three content areas that work together to support total health and well-being:
The content suite enables seamless integration into digital health platforms and employer or benefits portals through ConnectWell’s Application Program Interface (API), hosting ConnectWell’s site directly on their platform, or by a seamless redirect to our site. The companies that license our content for use with their employees, members, patients, and users are raising the health education and engagement levels of their populations by providing them with an independent, trusted source of expertly vetted health and wellness resources. A healthier population is more productive and cost-effective for employers, providers, payers, and society as a whole.
Q. How are your products important today?
The healthcare sector is almost 20% of GDP, and healthcare premiums and costs continue to outpace inflation each year. This share of healthcare does not include other expenditures related to health that people invest in for their well-being: food, over-the-counter medications, supplements, athletic and health club memberships, exercise equipment, wearable devices, massage treatments, alternative therapies (acupuncture, chiropractor, and integrative medicine), and counseling.
Sixty percent of Americans have one chronic condition and 42% have two or more. Because chronic conditions are long-term health issues, people must get involved in managing their care in order to maintain their health.
A Brief Background on the Healthcare Leader
Andrea Bloom is the Founder & CEO of ConnectWell and guides the company in being a trusted, comprehensive source of digital content to empower people in managing their health and well-being. Andrea is a seasoned healthcare executive and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in product development, marketing, international strategy, business development, and consulting roles. Prior to founding ConnectWell, Andrea worked for leading healthcare companies (Johnson & Johnson, Roche), medical device start-ups (Metrika, iCare, Calibra Medical) and health-related nonprofits (Institute for the Future, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Heart Association, Diabetic Youth Foundation, and Institute for Responsible Nutrition). Andrea received a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.