Dr. Casey Means recently joined Founder Institute Head of Global Marketing Rachel Sheppard for a live online event, where she discussed the future of Women’s HealthTech, and Digital Health more broadly. Dr. Means is a physician of Functional Medicine and Co-Founder of Levels Health, which uses an FDA-approved continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and associated software to allow patients to learn how specific food and lifestyle choices directly affect their own metabolic health. Dr. Means has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Insider, NutritionFacts.org, The Hill, Well+Good, Endocrine Today, Endocrine Web, Metabolism, and more for her work focusing on maximizing human potential, as well as disease prevention and reversal, through the optimization of metabolic health.
In the video below, Dr. Means explains how emerging consumer digital health technologies like CGMs allow users to finally take the guesswork out of personal dietary and nutrition choices, and begin to clearly and quantitative understand what works best for their own individual bodies. Patients who use Levels Health go on what the company calls a ‘Metabolic Awareness Journey’ that lasts for 28 days, where 2 CGMs are worn continuously on the arm, each lasting for 14 days. Over that monthlong period of metabolic observation, patients learn how their individual food item and personal lifestyle choices directly affect their own blood glucose levels, and can quickly build much deeper understandings of how to optimize their routines and habits to truly maximize their individual body’s potential health and wellness.
Human bodies are dynamic systems
Dr. Means explains how the personal metabolic insights and understanding that digital health technology products Level Health can unlock, lie in stark contrast to the conflictingly broad array of generalized nutrition and lifestyle information available, saying,
Research suggests that people are wildly confused about nutrition advice… And this can make it very hard to know what’s right for you. There’s a lot of research that suggests that two people will respond very differently to the same food—we’re totally biochemically individual entities, each person, based on their genetics and their underlying health. And so, what’s right for you might not be right for me—and to be able cut through a lot of the marketing noise and loud voices in nutrition, to actually have an objective data stream that’s telling you exactly what works for you, it’s very empowering and actually makes our choices a lot more efficient.
As Dr. Means outlines, the prevalence of conditions like diabetes and obesity among the US population, in particular, are only the most overt symptoms of underlying metabolic dysregulations. The even broader prevalence of symptoms like insulin resistance and high blood pressure are all leading indicators of underlying individual mismanagement or unawareness of how one’s own dietary and lifestyle choices directly affect personal metabolism. Speaking about dynamics states within the body, and for women’s heath specifically, Dr. Means notes,
Many problems in women’s health are fundamentally rooted in blood sugar dysregulation—and I think that’s something that’s not widely known. And currently, a lot of our solutions to these problems are essentially symptoms management, but don’t necessarily get to the root causes.
Health problems in need of systematic solutions
- Alzheimer's disease
- Weight and Obesity
- Skin conditions
- Inflammation conditions
- Blood sugar
- Metabolic disease
- Menopausal symptoms
Functional Medicine takes a systems-biology approach to health by focusing on identifying and addressing the root causes of disease, where symptoms or different diagnoses may be only one of many that contribute to an individual's overall illness or wellness. Dr. Means discusses how the approach of functional medicine can be used to build more scalable solutions to health challenges, which may become much more effective in terms of disease prevention, versus just the treatment of more severe symptoms once they emerge. She explains how individualized biofeedback can be much better understood through application of digital tools like CGMs, which let users understand holistically how, even in those without existing diagnoses, personal choices affect personal metabolic and health outcomes.
Dr Means shares about her own journey from practicing physician to startup founder, and explains how for many clinicians, embracing entrepreneurship can in fact become a tool for amplifying their impact on the health and wellbeing of patients, saying,
My litmus test is that if there’s something a doctor is saying over and over again, or doing over and over again by hand, it should probably be developed into a program, or a product or device that does it for them in a more efficient and effective way—and maybe the product can even do it better, because it can add additional data, and take some of the cognitive burden off doctors as well. But I think what that takes though is clinicians really taking stock of how they’re spending their time, and what they’re doing; what the pain points of their workflow is, and what is working in patient care and what isn’t—and it takes stepping back and examining things more holistically and then saying, ‘Where could partnering with a software engineer or product development person or a hardware manufacturer, where could that help actually streamline this and make it so that it’s not ultimately a 1:1 unscalable solution?'
In response to a question that many founders grapple with in their day to day lives, Dr. Means provides a deeply personal and interesting answer to, “What does being a healthy founder mean to you?”
To me, being a healthy founder means making myself biochemically resilient to face the challenges of starting a company. I know that I want to lead with deep creativity and energy and calm; but to have to actually be this way, I have to create deep creativity and energy and calm.
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