[Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to indicate that Glenn Tullman was the former chief executive of Allscripts, not its founder as was previously indicated.]
Diabetes affects 29.1 million people in the U.S. — including the son of Allscripts former chief executive Glen Tullman. When Tullman was looking to launch his next startup, he wanted to create a technology that would touch millions, and from his own experience he knew how broken the system of care for diabetes patients was.
So, working in tandem with investors at the venture capital firm General Catalyst, Tullman began the process of developing a new way to test and monitor insulin levels for diabetics.
That six-month process culminated in the launch of Livongo Health, a Palo Alto-based company launched today onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014. Backed by $10 million from General Catalyst, Livongo is part of the deluge of healthcare focused startups applying information technology innovations to massive healthcare problems.
“We started to brainstorm about what’s coming next,” says Tullman of the process he went through with General Catalyst partners Niko Bonatsos and Hemant Taneja. “We talked about understanding your body’s vital narrative. Each body is different and each tells a different narrative. We haven’t learned to decode those narratives and that’s what Livongo is all about.”
“In Silicon Valley we’ve solved all of these problems, but what people don’t understand is how backward we are in the experience of how we understand healthcare,” Tullman says.
In the diabetes industry, doctors see their patients twice a year under existing treatment regimens, Tullman says, and use a six month average to determine the health of their patients. “We’re developing a tool that allows, by monitoring your blood, to signal to you and others when you have dangerously low blood sugar,” Tullman says.
Though the company expects to do evolve into a platform for treating all kinds of chronic diseases, Tullman says that they wanted to tackle the biggest problem first, which led them to diabetes. To that end, Livongo Health will sell an FDA cleared two-way, interactive glucometer, unlimited supplies for monitoring, cloud-based analytics, and real-time monitoring and support, to customers.
In one test case, the company’s technology and service was able to save an elderly woman from hospitalization when the monitoring service realized that she hadn’t moved in three days and hadn’t tested her blood. An emergency contact was notified and the woman was given treatment.
“This is one of the most celebrated teams in the healthcare IT space that’s going after a massive market, where 9% of all Americans are suffering from diabetes,” says General Catalyst principal Niko Bonatsos.
Two days ago, Livongo received clearance to distribute their devices and the company already has thousands of orders from places like Healthcare Partners and Office Depot, and self-insured employers.
“This is a $250 billion market in the U.S. that affects one out of every 10 people,” says Tullman.
Initially backed by Tullman’s own 7wire Ventures, General Catalyst joined the company’s list of backers earlier this year and both General Catalyst managing director, Hemant Taneja, and Bonatsos will take seats on the company’s board. “We’re excited to partner with Glen and team to help accomplish their mission. We think that companies like Livongo can reduce healthcare costs by $100 billion in diabetes alone,” said Taneja in a statement.