A digital coach to help patients manage their chronic conditions

Pathmate Technologies – the digital solution that supports people suffering from chronic diseases. This Swiss start-up has created a digital health coach. With the support of Innosuisse, it launched its product on the market with a health insurance as a first customer and is aiming to make it available to more and more companies.

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People living with a chronic condition such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes have regular check-ups and visits with doctors. However, everyday life behaviors such as therapy adherence, fitness activity, diet or stress as the underlying risk factors for chronic diseases, happen outside of healthcare institutions. Pathmate Technologies developed a personalized digital health coach that supports these people in their everyday life to increase their self-management skills and therapy adherence. Pathmate offers its digital health coach to health insurances to enable them to provide scalable and personalized support for their customers living with a chronic condition.

Pathmate was founded in 2017, as a spin-off of the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and the University of St. Gallen. During their research carried out at the ‘Center for Digital Health Interventions’, the founders of Pathmate developed the underlying technology and their expertise through multiple digital health research projects in collaboration with partners from universities and industry. Pathmate’s mission is to build a personalized digital health coach for people suffering from chronic diseases that are fun to use, trusted and improve medical outcomes and lives. It is pursuing this mission with the help of Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, and its coaching programmes.

A simple idea lies behind this technology, as Michelle Heppler, co-founder and Chief Customer Officer (CCO) of the start-up, explains: “We ask ourselves what a personal doctor would do and recommend, if she or he could accompany patients in their everyday life. We collaborate with doctors to anticipate the different situations that people with chronic diseases face in their daily lives and base our digital health coaches on existing evidence-based guidelines.” Pathmate’s digital health coach proactively supports and guides people similar to a real coach. It provides personalized recommendations specific to the disease and the situation each person faces. People receive their individual daily plans with personalized health objectives on their mobile devices. “The digital health coach motivates people with high blood pressure, for example, to keep a weekly diary. It explains why it is important to measure blood pressure and provides users the tools to do so. People receive personalized feedback on their progress and reminder to take their medication and pursue their individual lifestyle goals,” adds Ms Heppler.

“Digital solutions do not replace doctors and the human factor. They play a complementary role and allow doctors to focus on tasks that are difficult to automate,” points out Ms Heppler. “While some people want a more frequent, proactive approach, others prefer more occasional support. Good digital technology respects these choices and adapts to the person’s preferences and daily life,” she adds.

To achieve this level of efficiency, Pathmate Technologies approached Innosuisse. “When moving from research to setting up as a start-up, company founders face many challenges,” remarks Ms Heppler, who adds: “Through its coaching programmes, Innosuisse gives us access to support from various experts. We chose a personal coach accredited by Innosuisse and we meet him regularly to discuss the challenges that we’re currently facing. This also brings us into contact with other coaches and different start-ups.”

This support provides Pathmate Technologies with the opportunity to benefit from the experience of experts. Over the coming months, the start-up plans to integrate new functions into its digital coach as well as new chronic diseases such as diabetes or psychological diseases.

Text: Johanne Stettler

Last modification 21.10.2019

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Michelle Heppler (CCO), Andreas Filler (CTO), Dr. Dirk Volland (CEO), cofounders of Pathmate Technologies

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