Livongo dives into behavioral health with myStrength buy

myStrength President and Co-Founder Matt Sopcich, Livongo Executive Chairman Glen Tullman, myStrength CEO and Co-Founder Scott Cousino and Livongo President Dr. Jennifer Schneider (Livongo Health)

Livongo Health is acquiring the behavioral health-focused myStrength for an undisclosed sum. The deal adds digital tools for conditions such as depression, chronic pain and opioid addiction to Livongo’s repertoire, bringing the company one step closer to its goal of addressing “the health of the whole person.” 

“We acquired myStrength to address the needs of the whole person, which are so core to people who have chronic conditions,” said Livongo CEO Glen Tullman. 

“Of the 135 million people who have chronic conditions, a significant percentage of them have more than one,” he said. “It turns out that when we look at people with Type 2 diabetes, 70% of those people have hypertension, and 70% of those people with hypertension and diabetes have a weight problem. And 70% of those people struggle with depression.”

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“Addressing issues in silos actually made healthcare more confusing, more complex and more costly,” he said. Livongo’s solution is to get rid of these silos and focus on the “whole person.” So, Tullman said, instead of giving a patient with four chronic conditions four different devices, four pieces of software and four coaches, Livongo wants to offer them in one package. 

Focused on chronic disease, Livongo started out in diabetes management. Its Livongo for Diabetes program includes a cellular-connected blood glucose meter, unlimited free test strips and remote digital coaching with certified diabetes educators. In January 2018, the company added hypertension management to its program, and in September that year debuted its cellular-enabled blood pressure cuff. Patients already using the diabetes program gained access to the new tool, and new patients can use it as a standalone product. 

The products will not immediately change for Livongo or myStrength users. But users of one will now have access to the other. And over the next few months, Livongo will work to “feather the products together,” for patients who want an “integrated experience,” Tullman said. 

Livongo also made a couple of new appointments: Chief Data Officer Anmol Madan, previously the CEO of Ginger.io, and Vice President of Behavioral Health Strategy Julia Hoffman, Psy.D., formerly the National Director of Mental Health Services for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Lyra Health. 

“With both these additions, we are really looking to the future … Let’s make sure we have the expertise and the strength we need not just to grow, but to lead in the space,” Tullman said. 

Speaking of the future, Tullman said Livongo will focus on what’s under its umbrella right now and continue to solicit customer feedback.  

“In chronic conditions, we’ve now covered the biggest and most important ones, according to our customers. Probably the other area we’ve talked about looking at is the respiratory area. That’s one other chronic condition—whether it be asthma or whether it be COPD—where we find a lot of our customers concerned, not so much about their employees, but their employees’ kids.” 

Livongo sees a big opportunity to help self-insured employer health plans better manage asthma- and COPD-related costs. 

“Down the road we will see, but these are enormous markets,” Tullman said.

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