This app can help you make more informed health choices - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Nov. 18, 2016 7:28 am

This app can help you make more informed health choices

You have your data, but it's pointless if you don't *do* anything with it. Betamore-based b.well, which launched earlier this month, aims to fix that.

Mm. Healthy.

(Photo by Flickr user A Healthier Michigan, used under a Creative Commons license)

Once upon a time, all your health data was stored in some forlorn cabinet in your doctor’s office. But that’s no longer the case — now electronic¬†medical records, wearables and¬†even genomic tests are providing a much richer picture of a person’s health than ever before.

b.well, which launched in mobile and web app formats earlier this month, looks to put all of those disparate and often scattered kinds of health data in one place for a family. The platform also has components to share the data, and assist with finding solutions.

“We really look at this as a way to help educate consumers,” as well as empower them to make healthy choices, said Kristen Valdes, founder and CEO of the Betamore-based startup.

Valdes has worked in healthcare for more than 16 years. She oversaw operations and technology at Baltimore-based XL Health and stayed on following its 2012 acquisition by United Healthcare before moving on to found b.well.

In addition to her professional experience, she also found that there wasn’t a solution to manage her own family’s health history and records.

Since April, the team has grown to 13 employees and taken in $2.5 million in outside investment.

Valdes said she chose to base the company in Baltimore because it has the opportunity to be a “health IT mecca,” given the confluence of renowned institutions and startups that are springing up.

The platform offers a way to digitally store and manage family medical records from different sources, as well as insurance and health history info. It can also pull from connected devices that monitor fitness, sleep or other health metrics.

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However, it goes beyond simply presenting the data. The app identifies potential gaps in a person’s current care, and allows users to connect with doctors and compare pharmacy prices. It can also offer users discounts and other rewards for hitting health goals from local fitness and food partners. A feature called Health Tribe also allows the data to be shared with select family and friends.

The b.well app in action (Screenshot)

The b.well app in action (Screenshot)

It’s offered to consumers for $10 a month, and Valdes also said healthcare plans and providers themselves are customers. For example, b.well is set to power Evergreen Health’s new app.

From a healthcare perspective, the approach represents a shift in perspective from managing diseases to making health associated with lifestyle choices. Given the scope of the technology and the fact that healthcare is involved, Valdes said she was initially told by some that the app is ahead of its time.

“The reality is it’s exactly the right time. Consumers need to be empowered because if we wait for everyone one else to work their way there, we’re never going to get there,” she said.

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Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Technical.ly Baltimore and Technical.ly DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.

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