Sean Duffy didn’t set out to become an outcomes-era oracle. It just happened.
After receiving a degree in neuroscience from Columbia University, Duffy headed west, landing first at Google and then at design shop IDEO. There he began working on what would become Omada Health as an internal project.
“What could you build in digital health that would combine both incredible product design and high clinical integrity?” he recalls asking. “This was around 2011, when the digital-health market was nascent.”
Duffy believed the power of digital health could be harnessed in the realm of preventable chronic disease — specifically, weight-related conditions. Omada developed a chip-embedded scale that could automatically beam users’ weight readings to the company. To test its utility in context, the company recruited 230 pre-diabetes patients; over the course of 16 weeks, a team of health coaches monitored and supported them. The 166 people who completed the program shed an average of 6.4% of their weight.
“Our vision from day one was to stand on a strong scientific foundation, to design a delightful online user program, to publish our outcomes to show the medical community that we’re delivering clinical value that matters, and to insist on getting outcomes in the real world,” Duffy recalls. “We’ve always priced on our outcomes.”
That last part certainly captured the attention of the health-tech and payer communities. One senses that Duffy almost can’t comprehend why a health-related product would be priced any other way. “The unit of value at the end of the day is the outcome. Why not charge on that?” he asks rhetorically. “Honestly, I didn’t realize how innovative it was.”
“It sounds a little funny, but what I always tell the team here is that my dream is for tomorrow’s epidemiologists to look back at the window between 2015 and 2020 and say, ‘Something happened during that period with the treatment of disease,’” Duffy says.
“I’d love for that something to be Omada. It feels as if all the clinical and financial stars are aligning.”