Interview with Henrik Berggren of Steady Health (the first digital diabetes clinic)
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
IMAGE CREDIT: STEADY.HEALTH
As many of you know, I have had type 1 diabetes since the age of 3. There have been so many advances in the diabetes world since my diagnosis to make the disease more manageable- including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors that track your blood sugars in real time.
What we've been missing, however, is easy access to medical professionals and their expertise in diabetes. The care model and access hasn't evolved at the same pace as the technological advancements around pumps and monitors, until now. Meet Steady Health: a virtual diabetes clinic. Their medical providers and team provide you with personalized care at your fingertips (literally) all. of. the. time.
I started following Steady Health after my husband came across them online. My husband works in the tech industry and a few of his favorite things include: health, data, technology, and me. Hence, why he was so intrigued by Steady Health and told me to look into it. I was not disappointed.
Check out my interview below with Henrik Berggren, co-founder and CEO of Steady Health.
P.S. This is not a paid endorsement and I am not yet a patient, as they are not currently taking patients in Florida. I'm just a fan and genuinely excited about this company's potential.
After reading up on Steady Health, the entire idea seems like a dream. I remember as a child (with type 1 diabetes) going with my parents to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD for my quarterly endocrinology appointments. The appointments were an all day event and you were required to bring your (archaic) hand-written blood sugar logbooks with you. The adult diabetes world is not much different. For those who don’t know about Steady Health, can you explain what you do and what makes Steady Health unique?
Henrik: Absolutely! Steady Health is a digital diabetes clinic that provides virtual endocrinology care. We specialize in Continuous Glucose Monitors as we believe they unlock a new type of care model for patients where we as a clinic can both deliver proactive care for the patients who need it when they need it. And, we can deliver personalized care based on the data they generate. If the traditional model of care is to prick your finger and go to a hospital every quarter, we use CGMs and provide continuous care in a convenient package.
IMAGE CREDIT: STEADY.HEALTH
Do you require that people have face-to-face appointments ever? If so, how often and why?
Henrik: We believe that every person with diabetes should see a doctor in-person at least once per year. To achieve that we partner with primary care so that they can do the necessary procedures and send the records to us. We believe this will be easier for the patient since primary care is usually more conveniently located and have more availability.
IMAGE CREDIT: STEADY.HEALTH
I LOVE my Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It’s hard to imagine life without it! (For the readers who aren’t aware of this device: Dexcom is a continuous glucose monitor that people with diabetes wear, which provides you with real-time blood sugar readings, alerting you when readings are out of range.) What do you think about Dexcom? What is the #1 diabetes gadget that you cannot live without?
Henrik: I absolutely live by my CGM. Its the most impactful piece of technology introduced in my life since my first smartphone. At Steady, we believe CGM to be the biggest step-change in diabetes care since the introduction of insulin. We have a partnership with Dexcom to get access to data from their CGMs automatically and many of our members use them. Highly recommended!
I know Steady is pretty new. Can any diabetic patient in the U.S. become a member?
Henrik: We’re live in California today, so as long as you are a resident somewhere in the state you can sign up for Steady. If you’re interested in our care but are in a different state, send us an email we’d love to hear from you so we can decide where to expand next.
I see that the Steady Health app costs $60/month ($720 a year). How did you land on the price? Do you anticipate rolling out additional plan options in the future?
Henrik: We wanted to set a price that balances the value we provide as well as the overall savings in time and effort that members see with our type of care. And I definitely believe we deliver value enough, I pay every month myself for my own care and just being able to message the care team when I have questions or need prescriptions is awesome.
And yes, we’ll most likely introduce more plans down the line so stay tuned.
To piggyback on the above question, does Steady Health or the specific provider charge for phone calls, after-hours questions, or review of blood sugars outside of the quarterly appointment?
Henrik: The only thing that we charge for on top of the subscription fee is visits with our endocrinologist. These visits are covered by insurance so most members pay only a co-pay when they see Dr. Wu a few times a year. Everything else is included in the monthly fee.
As a provider I know the importance of building rapport and relationships with my patients. As a diabetic patient, I appreciate the compassion, honesty, and expertise that my providers share with me and several have played an incredibly important role in my life. What’s the process like for hiring qualified providers and assigning them to patients?
Henrik: This is such a good point and its one of the reasons we have so much belief in a digital clinic. It actually gives us the opportunity to match up providers and patients regardless of location, as long as they are in the same state. In terms of hiring, we do extensive interviewing, casework and references for every person who joins our team.
Pediatric endocrinologists are in short supply. Do you see Steady Health eventually taking on the pediatric population?
Henrik: Yes, we’d love to expand to pediatrics as soon as we can. I can’t give you a specific timeline but stay tuned and you’ll hear more soon.
I know that you have worked at really cool technology companies in the past. What made you pivot into health technology and focusing on diabetes?
Henrik: After discovering CGM in 2017 I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it is a transformational piece of technology that every single person with diabetes should have access to. But, I also felt that even if you had one, you had to do almost everything on your own. So I thought to myself, what would a clinic that specialize in this technology look like and what kind of impact could it have on patients? Once I realized how impactful Steady could become, I had no other choice than to give it a shot.