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‘BeatO’ Adopts AI For Battling The Pandemic COVID-19

BeatO, a diabetes management system deploys AI to provide actionable insights to manage diabetes and offers an entire ecosystem to help users manage their illness

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By combining cost-effective hardware (the BeatO smartphone connected glucometer) with the BeatO app to support end-to-end management for their users, BeatO strives to provide a complete solution of all daily needs of a diabetic, ranging from blood-glucose monitoring, consultation with doctors and nutritionists, scheduling medication deliveries, insurance and diagnostics to specially curated food designed for diabetics.

Recently, they also added in-app consultations with doctors during Covid-19  pandemic to enable users to touch base with doctors from within their homes.

In an e-interaction with Gairika Mitra, Kunal Kinalekar, CTO, BeatO, explains how is AI inculcated in daily operations and how has it come to aid. 

In the health tech space, how are you coupling AWS and Google Cloud in your daily operations?

The primary motive of BeatO is to provide users a comprehensive ecosystem that nudges them and helps manage diabetes.  Our proprietary hardware, a small form factor Glucometer enables the user to monitor their blood-sugar level by simply connecting the device to their phones. A basic IOT setup helps users with chronic illness overcome their routine issues, which includes – keeping track of glucose readings, understanding the impact of the readings in the long run, and providing users actionable insights to bring uncontrolled glucose levels back to normal. 

Amazon WebServices and Google Cloud Platform, together, help us accomplish the IoT setup which syncs with the users’ blood glucose reading in real-time and generates actionable insights using an in-house custom-built Intelligent Nudging System. These cloud platforms also provide various tools of their own which makes it easy to for us be locally available around the world with consistent service and in compliance to the defined rules. One example of this would be Google Cloud Healthcare API, which seamlessly integrates with our ecosystem, and also makes the data exchange HL7® FHIR®, HL7® v2, and DICOM® compliant.

How has the dependency on technology-assisted you in tackling diabetes? Could you share some numbers? 

Technology at BeatO has evolved over time as we keep gaining more insights on the needs of a diabetic patient, helping us define the next steps towards building better health and life for our users. We started BeatO with glucometers to help users monitor their blood glucose levels. We soon realised that it was imperative for users to also keep a track of their readings. This is how our devices evolved to be IoT based. Further, we understood the intention of the tracking was to take corrective actions, hence rule-based interventions were created. This has now grown to become an Intelligent Nudging System which uses structured learning to suggest the best course of action to better manage and control blood sugar. With a user base of more than 150,000 users, approximately 98% are diabetic or pre-diabetic. As the ecosystem addresses all the needs a diabetic, it generates a retention of 90% and an engagement of 78% month-on-month for our glucometer users.

On an average, our user interacts 6-7 times a month with our Intelligent Nudging System by monitoring their blood sugar levels and receiving corrective actions from the INS. These interactions have resulted in successful health recoveries. For example, average “at risks” users with HbA1C of 10% and above have been able to achieve a drop to a 7.5% in their HbA1C, which makes them not at risk and well in control glycaemic index. This is achieved using the monitoring, nudging and adherence protocol defined by the system. A drop of 2.5% is hardly heard of via traditional monitoring techniques.

What’s the response of the users been so far?

The response from BeatO users has been really positive thus far. This is reflected through our NPS rating of 80, which is generated post-usage and an average Play Store and App Store rating of above 4.4 across platforms, post 180,000+ downloads of the app. We have also received positive feedback from users at the extreme ends of diabetes lifecycle via our medical and support team’s interaction with these users. A new diabetic is educated through interventions and provided actionable insights to form habits for a healthier lifestyle. Many users have also expressed that the function of setting automated alerts for caregivers helps keep the family and caregivers informed on their health. The regular medical and support intervention has also helped users to tweak habits that need improvements.

At present, there are many out there, striving to make an indelible mark in the healthtech space. How is BeatO functioning differently?

In the current landscape, there are hardly any players in the market which provide an end-to-end intelligent ecosystem for any chronic diseases, especially for diabetes management. We face different competition at different stages of the life cycle of a consumer. Since our user journey begins with the purchase of a blood glucose monitor, we face competition from the traditional glucose monitoring device manufacturers who offer bulky, non-smart, non-IoT, expensive devices. Compared to this, we have a small form factor device (as big as a ₹10 coin) which is smart, IoT based and priced as one of the most inexpensive device including the kit, in the market. 

Once the user starts using the device, we face competition from the same manufacturers and other independent app developers, who provide an app to keep track of the glucose reading, but since the devices are not Smart or IoT based, the data is either manually fed in the app or synced via Bluetooth and stays only in the phone in which the app is installed. On the contrary, BeatO users can track their readings as the data is synced on the cloud once a reading is taken and actionable insights are defined.

With respect to the ecosystem for fulfilling the health-based needs of a diabetic, there are currently no players which offer smart monitoring, medicine adherence and fulfilment, diagnostics support, nutritional therapy, diet monitoring and a virtual endocrine clinic (telemedicine/telehealth platform with endocrinologists and other speciality).

Do you believe technology to be a long-term problem solver for ailments?

Yes, definitely. Technology has to be a part of the long-term plan which will not just help people manage their conditions, but also allow us to learn more about these conditions in the detail. Simple solutions can be created around every condition, which will help us learn the cause, outcome and its impact in different aspects of the person suffering from the condition. Interventions can be identified, corrective course can be defined, and preventive measure can be setup from the learnings we generate using technology to solve these problems. 

How is your firm helping in curbing/tackling the pandemic?

As we all know the current pandemic impacts a certain segment of the population more than the others. This vulnerable segment includes population with a pre-existing condition like Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma, etc which is the population we are working with on a day-to-day basis to improve their health and help them lead a better, healthier life. As a health-tech company, it was imperative for us to understand the possible impact of Covid-19 on our users to ensure that none of our users are affected by the stress of the pandemic, and bring forth solutions to rising issues.

During Covid-19, we grew our ecosystem of hardware-based monitoring, medicine, diagnostics and food to include telemedicine/telehealth solution – hosting India’s top endocrinologists and other specialists through Audio/Video call. A virtual endocrine clinic, so to say. It also grew to offer insurance at a much subsidised cost or bundled free with subscription, which generally, outside of BeatO, is extremely difficult to get or an expensive proposition for a person with any chronic condition. 

We also ran different studies on our base of more than 150,000 users to understand the impact of Covid-19, lockdown and overall stress, noticing an increase of more than 20% in the glycaemic index. To bring these users to a controlled glucose levels, we upgraded our intelligence system to be more aggressive and set up intervention at tighter intervals and monitored adherence. The result observed on the same set of users after a few weeks of intervention was a drop in the blood glucose levels, bringing about 60% of these users back in controlled diabetics group.

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