The Friday Interview: Tom Vinciguerra, Founder at Smart Habits
This week’s interviewee is a psychologist and founder of a new online weight loss and type 2 diabetes prevention service called Smart Habits. His name is Tom Vinciguerra and the site he created offers users access to smart technology and real health professionals to bring about long-term lifestyle change. As it’s founder, Tom is passionate about digital health and also obsessed by successfully changing behaviour.
HI TOM COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT SMARTHABITS IS?
The leading cause of death and disability in the modern world is our lifestyles. Eating poorly, not exercising enough and carrying around too much weight reduces our quality and quantity of life and puts us at risk of a range of nasty chronic diseases.
The problem is that the modern world, with its highly engineered foods that are designed to be irresistible, makes it incredibly hard to be healthy for many of us.
At Smart Habits, we are working to empower anybody, anywhere to live a healthy lifestyle free from preventable disease. We offer a range of online weight loss and type 2 diabetes prevention programs, delivered by trained health professionals (e.g. dietitians, exercise physiologists, psychologists). In addition to our best practice coaching, our programs use smart devices (Fitbit activity trackers and wireless scales) to improve our client engagement and outcomes above and beyond traditional approaches.
We launched quietly in 2014 and have had steady growth to date, with 95% of our clients reaching their weight loss goals and developing smart exercise and nutrition habits.
HOW DOES SMARTHABITS MAKE MONEY?
Our core product – online health coaching – uses a subscription model.
Clients sign up for one of our 12-week, 6-month or 12-month programs and are charged a monthly fee. In return they receive a Fitbit activity tracker and wireless bathroom scale; access to their personal dashboard which houses all their weight, sleep and activity data (plus heaps more); a set amount of online (Skype) coaching sessions with their team, which consists of a dietitian, exercise physiologist, and psychologist; personalised meal and workout plans; and regular contact and support from coaches in the form of emails and/or text messages between sessions.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT FROM SMARTHABITS?
There are a number of things in the pipeline, all of which are really exciting.
We are in the early stages of dealing with some large private health insurers hoping to devise a way for our clients to receive rebates for our service. Currently private health insurers don’t offer rebates for online coaching, despite the continued rise of telehealth throughout the world.
We’re also working on creating a group Smart Habits program that will make our program cheaper for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. We’re really excited about this as rates of chronic disease are significantly higher in these populations and we want to offer our service to as many people as possible, particularity the people who need it most.
WHAT DO YOU PERSONALLY TRACK ON A DAILY BASIS?
Steps and weight.
If you only have the time or patience to track a few variables, then steps, weight and nutrition are realty all you need. Research shows that if these three variables are where they should your chance of developing a chronic disease is significantly reduced.
LASTLY, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE OF SELF QUANTIFICATION?
In the future wearables will become invisibles and they’ll move beyond the early adopter geeks with too much disposable income to high risk populations – such as lower socioeconomic groups who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes – that will derive great benefit from them.