Buoyed by an investment from Intermountain Healthcare, Vivante Health has treated thousands in its first two years.
Employer-based health plans are turning to Vivante Health’s digital health program to help the more than 70 million Americans who suffer from digestive disease, which costs some $136 billion in medical claims annually.
The GIThrive platform combines gut bacteria analysis and trigger food identification with app-based personalized action plans, food diaries, educational materials, and 24/7 personal support from registered dietitians and health coaches, backed by a multidisciplinary team of gastroenterologists, microbiome scientists and other clinical professionals.
“When you look at different chronic conditions where digital health has really tried to make an impact, you’ve seen a lot of organizations and solutions focus on people suffering from diabetes or behavioral health issues,” says Bill Snyder, chief executive officer at Vivante Health. “There’s been a big gap in the solutions that that work with patients who suffer from chronic digestive issues.”
Vivante Health clinicians are licensed in all 50 states with type II NPI (National Provider Identification) numbers, Snyder says.
Bill Snyder, chief executive officer of Vivante Health. Photo courtesy Vivante Health.
“We’re very focused on supporting the existing care ecosystem,” he says. “We’re not looking to replace gastroenterologists, because there’s great work that they do. What we’re doing is front-end work. We’re evaluating acuity. In many cases, we’re finding high-acuity patients and telling them, you really need to get in to see a provider in a brick-and-mortar clinic, or see a gastroenterologist, because you’re presenting with some pretty high-risk potential condition attributes.”
The organization partners with health plans and self-insured employers to make its program available to members and employees.
“58% of our membership today does not have a formal diagnosis, but they’ve come to us with an average of 3.9 symptoms,” Snyder says. “That can be for different reasons. From some, they don’t have access to the care they need. For others, maybe they’ve seen providers, but haven’t been able to get a diagnosis, and haven’t been able to get any symptom reduction. Or for others, maybe they haven’t seen a provider, and they really should.”
The GIThrive app acts as a point of intake. Users are asked questions about their symptoms and condition, if they are taking medication, and if they’re working with a provider. Vivante then assesses the user’s acuity and builds an evidence-based clinical protocol based on that information.
Based on that protocol, Vivante Health’s remote care team of health coaches and registered dietitians support patients as they work on alleviating their symptoms or seeking in-person care.
Vivante Health also offers an optional microbiome analysis and, beginning in 2023, will incorporate more third-party tests, such as full lab panels.
Snyder says Vivante Health has helped thousands of patients since its launch two years ago.
A large proportion of Vivante Health’s patients do not need to be referred into a brick-and-mortar facility, Snyder says. Instead, Vivante Health’s team works with these patients to identify trigger foods and provide services such as medical nutritional therapy and cognitive behavioral coaching.
The benefit to employers is reduced emergency room visits and improved medication adherence, he says.
“From a patient outcomes perspective, they’re coming back and saying, ‘I feel better, my symptoms are reduced, I have a much better idea of how to improve my digestive health, and my overall health and well-being is improved as well,'” he says.
Vivante Health is also attracting attention from traditional health plans and is looking forward to moving ahead with some of those relationships in 2023, Snyder says.
Another tool in Vivante Health’s toolbox is GI Mate, a handheld breath hydrogen monitor. The device, which measures hydrogen concentration in a user’s breath, can help identify lactose intolerance and several other digestive disorders.
Prior to joining Vivante Health, Snyder spent nearly 12 years at Humana, ultimately heading up the insurer’s Chicago office. After Humana, he headed sales at Virta Health, which treats type 2 diabetes through a physician-led remote care team, including individualized nutrition therapy.
“I’ve always being doing entrepreneurial things,” he says.
Snyder left Virta to join Vivante because “there’s a huge opportunity here to impact a lot of lives in an untapped space.” A family member who suffered from digestive symptoms and conditions impressed upon him the toll that can take on a life day to day, he says.
One challenge to growing a digestive health-oriented provider is the stigma attached to the condition.
“We hear it time and again that people were nervous about accessing care, nervous about talking about it,” Snyder says. “It’s unfortunate that it still occurs.”
One of Vivante Health’s investors is Intermountain Ventures, an arm of the integrated health system based in Salt Lake City.
“Just having the opportunity to talk about Vivante Health with Intermountain’s gastroenterology team, and some of their other practitioners, so they could understand what we’re building, was phenomenal,” Snyder says.
The biggest challenge of his job is keeping the patient first, he says.
“It’s heavy lifting, and it’s a lot of work,” he says. “The great part is, it is definitely a great mission that people get behind and are excited to be pushing forward.”
Scott Mace is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.