DaVita Invests in Wellth

Full access

DaVita (Denver, CO) has contributed an undisclosed amount to a round of funding for Wellth, a new company that uses behavioral economics principles to improve chronic-disease patient compliance with treatments in many areas of health. DaVita and Rock Health were the two new contributing members to the total of $10 million that Wellth, based in Los Angeles, raised recently. Top contributors include Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and yabeo, a German investment firm that supports “young, innovative companies.”

What do these companies like about Wellth, and what is its approach? The company has developed a platform that provides financial incentives and positive feedback when patients reach health compliance milestones. Wellth’s products combine mobile technologies with behavioral economics concepts to help patients keep track of and adhere to their most important health activities over time. By delivering 89% care plan adherence, Wellth says its products can reduce complex patient costs by a range of $1500–$4500 per patient per year.

The Wellth website provides examples of the types of human behaviors and susceptibilities that can be used to gain better patient compliance. As an example of financial incentives, one study referenced on the website provided an up-front incentive payment if a person takes 7000 steps per day. Yet, better health outcomes were observed in the group docked $1.40 each time they failed to comply than in the group who earned $1.40 for each 7000-step compliance day completed. This tactic is based on loss aversion principles: people are more loath to lose money they have received than they are to accumulate money.

Loss aversion is just one of the techniques the company can employ to keep patients on track to better health. Other techniques include mobile phone technologies for photograph compliance check-ins, messages, and resources, along with deliberate human feedback.

Wellth is now partnering with DaVita around a shared ambition to serve the high-risk, high-need patient population from chronic kidney disease through transplantation, DaVita announced.

Dialysis patients often have an average of 11 daily medications, multiple dialysis sessions per week, and stringent nutritional guidelines, the dialysis provider noted.

“DaVita Venture Group’s investment in Wellth continues our commitment to caring for the whole health of our kidney disease patients, who must navigate complex care plans,” said Steve Phillips, vice president of DaVita Venture Group. “Wellth’s platform has the potential to enable new models of patient engagement and drive further transformation for the 200,000 patients we serve.”