Using AI, Yes Health cuts costs, improves adherence for weight loss and diabetes treatment

Using a combination of machine learning and computer vision, Yes Health claims it can cut costs and improve adherence for behavioral-based treatments targeting diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions.

Those claims, and the company’s technology-based approach, has netted the company a new $6 million in funding led by Khosla Ventures .

The company’s technology automates patient’s reporting requirements by allowing them to take a picture of their meals rather than entering their daily food intake into a system. The company’s software recognizes meals from the images and converts that information into data that physicians and patients can use to monitor their progress.

If the ease of use for patients is one selling point, then the company’s automated messaging service is another. Using computer-generated prompts instead of human consultations reduces the cost of the service and ultimately the price that folks have to pay.

Founded by Alexander Petrov, a former PayPal executive who is, himself, pre-diabetic, Yes Health takes the therapies that have been pioneered by companies like Virta Health and Omada and makes them easier for patients to manage. 

“The biggest difference is that we have a level of personalization that then translates into engagement that is very unique,” says Petrov. “We are doing it through what we call an image-based in-the-moment approach… We capture, analyze and share data not just through text but through images.”

The company, which launched six years ago, is working with Blue Shield of California and other healthcare partners. Yes Health has tens of thousands of paying members, according to Petrov, and the vision is to reach millions of people. 

Yes Health sells through both healthcare plans and direct to consumers — and the market the company hopes to address is huge. Roughly 34 million Americans had diabetes in 2018, according to data from the CDC, and another 88 million are considered pre-diabetic. The cost of caring for these conditions in the U.S. is an astonishing $327 billion each year. Healthcare costs for these patients can also reach more than 230% of the average American’s healthcare expenditures.

These issues take on new significance given the COVID-19 epidemic. Conditions like diabetes or obesity are linked to increasing chances of fatality from COVID-19 infection, according to reports.

“Americans are more conscious than ever about their health, and digital health has become one of the most important markets for innovation,” said Samir Kaul, founding partner and managing director of Khosla Ventures, in a statement. “Yes Health is proven to tackle difficult and costly chronic conditions through an AI-augmented and all-mobile solution, aligning it with our firm’s thesis in healthcare.”