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December 30, 2019

Take control of your health data with David Korsunsky

Allan: 02:08 David, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

David: 02:11 Thanks for having me.

Allan: 02:12 You know,I've known about your service Heads Up Health for wow. Probably at least four years, four or five years when I started hearing you on different podcasts particularly in the, in the community. Yes, there was a lot of interest there because your approach was centered on them. And I liked it when I first got on. I was like, okay, this is really cool because I can store all my data here instead of spreadsheets. Cause I, you know, all my health markers were on spreadsheets and same as just, you know, yeah. That just, that gets, that gets cumbersome and then it just gets to a point where it's not even useful anymore. Can you tell us a little bit about why you created heads up health and what it, what it would do for us?

David: 02:57 Sure. Well, I was always someone who was generally healthy, but I grew up in central Canada and I grew up on a, a pretty typical, I guess you'd call it the standard American diet or the standard Canadian diet in my case. But I was in the corn belt of Canada and was raised and didn't really have a tremendous amount of knowledge about what I was putting in my body. And I noticed that as I got older and I was in the United States and working in big tech, I became really interested in the idea of how I can optimize my own personal performance. I noticed that even though I exercise a lot more than everybody, I knew I was still heavier than everybody I knew and that that was, that didn't sit well with me. I knew that there was something more there. So I always had been really interested in the idea of self hacking, of using data.

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David: 03:54 And so to go back to your point, one of the most insightful moments was when I built that hideous spreadsheet and I called all four of my doctors. I had one in Boston, I had a couple in Canada, I had some in California. I put all my blood tests in a spreadsheet and that was a lot of work. You gotta be a pretty serious health nerd to go through an exercise like that. And Allan it sounds like you did the same. So we're kindred spirits there. But the first thing that happened was I could see the patterns and I'm like, wow, my doctor can't even see these patterns. You know, he's got one of these PDFs there's another six that have my medical history. And there were trends happening in the data that would be impossible to see otherwise, trends that actually needed attention.

David: 04:40 And I discovered those trends as a patient. And that was the moment where I realized how powerful the data can be when it was centralized. And that was right around the time that we were starting to get access to tools as individuals that were very, very sophisticated. And these were consumer grade devices that could do things like measuring heart rate variability, which 10 years ago you needed to go to a hospital to get and get hooked up to a massive machine. And now all you need is a Bluetooth heart rate monitor and a good HRV app. So I started seeing all of this information that we as individuals could monitor on ourselves, which was awesome. And then I saw how I could overlay it with my medical records. That's ultimately what helps us determine if we're really doing things properly or not. And I just became obsessed with building this system and making it available to everybody. And it's just kind of taken over my life since then.

Allan: 05:39 Yes, I can imagine.

David: 05:41 I guess that's the typical getting bit by the bug. It just becomes all consuming and you want to build this and create this and bring it to life. You know, you talked about people who've written books, and for me it's, I've written a piece of software.

Allan: 05:58 Yeah, and I think there's a, there's a ton of value there that is, it would be, it would be otherwise missed. I mean, you know, everybody likes simple, simple rules, you know, complete the circles on my Apple watch and I've done a good thing today. So you're getting a little bit of gamification, a little bit of information there. But that's just one little PISA data in just this huge sea of data that's coming at us. And there's more and more every year, you know, the watch that can look at your sleep patterns and the, you know the watch that can look at and do an EKG on you and obviously your lab results and, and you know, you go into your doctor and your prescriptions and you know, see you change your prescriptions and you see a change in your, in your trends. You know, what those prescriptions are doing to not just the symptoms that you're feeling, but your actual health markers. So I really liked that it's tying all of that stuff together in a way that is interpretable. I think that's the key. And that's where you've probably been spent spending a lot of your time, not just with, cause there's a ton of integrations, but then also just making sure that the data is interpretable.

David: 07:05 Yeah, we spent a lot of time on our user interface so that we could in essence, demystify a lot of these numbers. You know, how do you make it really simple for anybody to set up a dashboard and just look at some basic health stats even if you're not technically savvy. And you know, one of the interesting things Allan, is that our most active users on the system are actually the least technically savvy people out there. But they have a health issue. And we've made the dashboard intuitive enough that people can make some basic connections. They can test their blood sugar in the morning after they had a pizza the night before. And see how that's different from when they test their blood sugar in the morning after they stopped eating at 5:00 PM and just had a steak with veggies.

David: 07:49 And then these aha moments start happening for people. And these are aha moments that they may not actually get guidance on from the regular doctor. And that becomes exciting and that becomes fun. And then you get more into it and it starts to become very fun and rewarding. And you're basically just nerding out on your own health. And that's a win because I think the reason so many people are in a predicament right now with their health is because they haven't had the information and the insights and the tools, and they haven't had the knowledge about some of the risks of the foods we're putting in our bodies. And so we were kind of blindsided up to this point and now it's like, Oh wow, I have, I've got this microscope into all my health data and I can start figuring some stuff out myself. So making it simple and fun and easy and intuitive with big numbers, big buttons, easy charts, we just wanted to democratize it as much as possible. And as you know, we started this four or five years ago and I still read every single email that comes in our support queues. Most of our product direction is directly from our users. And we have our own private Facebook group where our loyal users are in there and they're testing the software and they're giving us the good, the bad, and the ugly, and, and we build in accordance with our users.

Allan: 09:09 Yeah, it's Drucker that said what what gets measured gets managed. And you're, you're providing a pretty valuable tool for folks that really want to get in there and manage their, their health. I was interviewing Dr. Will Cole last week. Yeah. We had him on and he, in his book he talks about the kind of the bio-individuality of us and how each of us is going to operate differently. Know even when we're doing things exactly the same. You know, I sleep eight hours, you sleep eight hours, you know, I have a glass of orange juice for breakfast. You have a glass of orange juice for breakfast. My blood sugar shoots up over a hundred. And your stay stable as a rock. You know, this is going to give us some of that data if we're checking our blood sugar and putting it in there for taking the time to, and some of this is automated. So if I go to a certain lab to get my blood tests, I can actually have that auto connected. So it's going to integrate right on in. So there's not the data entry to build those massive spreadsheets. And then there's the ability to interpret it on the backend. As far as the business, one of the reasons that I, I think this is kind of top of mind for me today is my wife and I moved down to Panama and we were going to go to a doctor here instead of going back to the United States to see her normal doctors, she's going to try to get a doctorate here. Um and she's like, well, I just saw my doctor, you know, three and four months ago and I have the labs for men. I'll just, I'll just call my, email my doctor and say, Hey, send those to this doctor. And they're like, no, we need a signed form and we need to either do that, do it in our office or fax it to us.

David: 10:44 And yeah, I mean, let me plug in the old fax machine there.

Allan: 10:48 Go find grandpa or somebody on this Island that has a fax machine for us to fax that document. And then fortunately there are some, but it was just such a pain in the butt. So just get the data and I told my wife, I'm like, let's just pay for another blood test because you know, I don't want to fly somewhere just to get to a fax machine, just to sign a piece of paper to ask your doctor to do something that you know you're asking them to do. They know what you and you know. So when you're, when you're doing these interactions, obviously, you know, we're, we're connecting a lot of things and we're pulling a lot of data in and that's a convenience. So you know, in a ways your service is a convenience. How is that data protected then? Cause I think that's what the concerns are. The doctor's like, well, I've got HIPAA and I've got these other regulations. That's why the fax machine, we need that security. How do you manage some of those security issues?

David: 11:44 Well, we don't use fax machines, unfortunately. Allan. Our system is, is considered a personal health record. And so the FDA treats that as being data that is owned and operated by the individual and the individual themselves. So if I am inviting my doctor to access my profile, that's a patient initiated action and that's different than the doctor initiating the request to the patient for data. So those are treated a little differently under HIPAA. That being said, one of the benefits of being a startup nowadays is we can build everything from the ground up on state of the art, HIPAA compliant technology. So all of the services inside Amazon AWS are HIPAA compliant and they use absolute state of the art technology. We have a very, very small footprint inside of Amazon. So we use all their HIPAA compliance services. We have to play by the same rules as everybody else does.

David: 12:54 One of the things we're working on starting in Q one is going to the next level of certification beyond HIPAA, which is called high trust. And that's an even more robust layer of security and compliance than HIPAA is. So we, we do everything we can on the security and the compliance side. We don't ever use the data for external use marketing purposes or anything like that. And that's all really, really clear inside of our terms of service. It's yours, you share it with whoever you want. And that's how we run the business. We're not in the business of making money on people's data. We make money on your monthly subscription.

Allan: 13:38 Cool. So you know, we've talked a little bit about tracking health data. Can you talk about some of the sources of health data that would reside in a tool in your tool? Uh,I know, you know, like we're talking, you know, certain integrations with things, certain things with upharmacies, but you know exactly what data would I be collecting and putting into your tool?

David: 14:00 So that's a really, really great question. And we look at the world and we categorize the data into three buckets. And the first bucket of data would be things that Allan is tracking at home. And so that's also called patient generated data. And that could be the heart rate data from your Apple watch. It could be the measurements when you step on the scale in the morning. It could be your blood pressure, maybe you're measuring that periodically. It could be your blood sugar, it could be more sophisticated health tech, like some of the new wearables like woop and bio strap and or ring.

David: 14:38 All of those do really, really sophisticated analysis on how well we sleep. How much cardiovascular load we're putting on our bodies during the day. So there's heart rate variability, which is becoming very popular because it helps us measure our stress. So everything you measure at home that helps you essentially gain biofeedback about yourself, the devices, the apps, the watches, everything like that. And so that's kind of what we call lifestyle data. That tells Allan, okay, how much am I sleeping? What's my calorie intake? You know, what's my blood sugar been over the last week? So that's the lifestyle data or what we call a patient generated. The second part is what you talked about earlier. Your wife's data, the clinical data. When you go to the regular old doctor and they run the blood work cholesterol, HDL, hemoglobin A1C white blood cell count inflammation markers.

David: 15:34 That is, that is the second bucket of data. And that's also really, really important because as you change your lifestyle habits, what you can measure in bucket number one, you're going to see the numbers in bucket number two, change. You know, prime example of that is hemoglobin A1C. And if you go on a really low carb ketogenic diet, you, you could easily just through dietary change alone have a significant impact. Maybe you bring it down from 6.5 to five or below just through a dietary change. So that's where one, you're looking at your, my fitness pal logs and your blood sugar from bucket one and your hemoglobin A1C from pro bucket two. So that's how that feedback loop goes. And then there's a third category of data that we focus on inside Heads Up that is a little nuanced and that's what I would call functional health data.

David: 16:26 And Dr. Cole probably may have mentioned this, but that would include things like heavy metal testing for some people is an issue. Mold exposure testing. It would include things like your microbiome and a lot of people who have digestive issues and they're testing the microbiome. It may include your genetic data. So that's like the third category, functional health organic acid testing. There's, there's a ton of information in urine and stool, which can be really helpful for people who have tougher cases with their health. So we're working with a lot of individuals and health coaches who do functional testing as well. It's not something you can get from your regular GP that's going to bill insurance, although insurance might cover some of the testing. So it's lifestyle, clinical, functional. Those are the three categories that we, that we integrate.

Allan: 17:23 Cool. And this is the tool that you've built out, not just for the end user to have access to share and use and see their data and analyze it. Practitioners can also use this with their patients, right?

David: 17:37 Yeah. Health coaches. We're, we're really focused Allan on the the cash pay wellness market. So these are doctors that you pay cash, functional health doctor, nutritionist an integrative specialist personal trainers. So we have a coaching portal where, and these are the people who want to see your Fitbit data and they want to look at your functional health data. They're going to spend an hour with you during your console and they're going to go over all of this stuff. And in a traditional medicine world, that system's not really built in a way where that data is, I would say, as valued or as part of the care plan.

David: 18:16 So we have a portal where health coaches can log in and they can log in and very quickly look at who of their clients need some extra help in terms of blood sugar. And they can look at dietary intake and personalize a protocol and they'll have access to Allan's labs going back 15 years. So your wife could show up to a functional doctor and, and provide access to the Heads Up profile and all the data. Is there all the labs, not just the most recent ones. Yeah. So we, we have a portal for health coaches as well and we want to be able to use the information as part of the treatment plan and there's awesome data out there. My doctor to look at it. I want to ask him like, why was my HRV higher this day versus that day and why, how, how do I personalize this?

David: 19:05 You've got my genetic data, you've got my lifestyle data, you've got my medical tests. Like they can dial it in for you.

Allan: 19:13 Yeah, that's, that's awesome. Now I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

David: 19:26 Oh, that's a great question. Three strategies and stack and tactics to get and stay well, I would have to say that understanding how to regulate your metabolism would be number one in terms of getting and staying well. And I say that because so many of the illnesses we have are metabolic in nature, sugar and foods that destroy our blood sugar and then cause a host of downstream effects. So getting a staying well means healthy blood sugar regulation. That will be my number one number two would be a high quality sleep and that's high quality sleep that you're measuring with something that can tell you the, there's a subjective component to sleep where you may think you're getting a great night's sleep, but you might have severe sleep apnea and you don't even know it and your sleep is actually incredibly disrupted.

David: 20:26 So getting really high quality rest would be the other one. And then the third one I would have to say would be probably related to community and spirituality. And I think that's essential. Having people around that love you and being able to give and receive love to people. It doesn't have to be a partner, it doesn't have to be a family member. There's lots of ways to give and receive love. It could just be through volunteering. But having community and ways to express and offer and receive love. I would say that's more of a spiritual than it is anything quantifiable and I think that's really important. So that will be my number three.

Allan: 21:09 Okay. Thank you David. Thank you for sharing that. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about Heads Up Health, where would you like for me to send them?

David: 21:18 Well, first of all, I offer everyone to just contact me directly. I'm an open book. My, my inbox is a little backed up, but I'll do my best. I'm David Heads Up Health and if you're interested in the software we provide, it's at Headsuphealth.com we have our own podcast, Data Driven Health Radio where we break down a lot of these numbers and demystify them and teach people how to use them. So much like yourself, Allan we're providing educational content and then you'll find us on all the regular social media channels. We share all the good information we find out there on the interwebs as well. So there's lots of ways to track us down. And if you want to give the softwarea try, it's 30 days. You can try it free. There's no credit card required, just no pressure. If you like it, hopefully it can make a difference in your health. The data was hugely transformational in my own health and so that's my life's work at this point.

Allan: 22:11 Good. So you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/414 and I'll be sure to have links there in the show notes. So David, thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness.

David: 22:23 Thanks for a great discussion.

David: 22:31 Did you know that we have a 40+ Fitness Podcast Group on Facebook?

Yep, we sure do. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group. That's a great place to interact with me and other listeners of the show. I'm on there all the time. Trying to put out great content, trying to make it fun. It's a really cool place. We have weekly challenges. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group and request to join the 40+ Fitness Podcast Group

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