By Joe Gardyasz
Senior Staff Writer, Des Moines Business Record

The problem:

Consumers don’t always make the most healthful choices at the grocery store, in part because they lack an easy way to track past purchases and effectively plan their meals so they can make smarter decisions while they’re in the store.

The innovation:

BettrLife Corp. developed a fully integrated mobile and Web platform designed for mobile health coaching. The software application, which will be marketed to health insurers, hospital groups, large self-insured companies and wellness companies, enables users to create customized meal plans through extensive recipe, product and restaurant listings. The app also helps people to maintain food and exercise logs and monitor food allergies and ingredient preferences. The application was a finalist for a 2013 Prometheus Award from the Technology Association of Iowa for Best Mobile App.

How they did it:

Don Schoen was looking for the next big thing after selling his successful West Des Moines electronic medical records company, MediNotes Corp., in 2009.

BettrLife began as a grocery-buying app for consumers but evolved into a health-and-wellness software product, Schoen said. “We didn’t want to do something that was just niche for Des Moines. If you do technology right, it can be expanded to the U.S. or even worldwide.”

Davin Hills, BettrLife’s chief technology officer, said the application will fill a need for many companies that are seeking a wellness technology platform. The key to BettrLife’s success will be offering a range of tools at people’s fingertips, on their smartphones. For instance, the app has a search feature that enables users to find recipes online and then add the ingredients for that recipe to their shopping list. It also automatically adds regularly purchased staples such as milk and bread.

BettrLife charges clients on a per-family, per-month basis. Each consumer’s purchasing data is stored in a cloud-based system, which enables an insurer to couple the program with a health coach option to recommend better products to buy and facilitate healthier eating habits, Hills said.

“A huge aspect that we have nailed is the privacy and security aspect,” Schoen said. Health insurers won’t be provided with individuals’ data, but could get data about a population’s activities as a whole, he said. “People will ultimately be rewarded for logging their shopping activity in return for lower premiums or some other type of reward…” he said.

The payoff:

The grocery shopping portion of the software is currently offered to Aetna Inc. health plan members through the iTunes Store and Google Play. BettrLife is negotiating with a number of other companies. BettrLife currently has 12 employees, and Schoen said it’s possible revenues could enter break-even territory later this year. “I see a massive explosion in market acceptance, and I see us going to 20 employees this year, and probably doubling that next year,” he said

Re-posted from the Des Moines Business Record

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