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Health IT startup has big plans for mobile app

on September 2, 2011 Source:

A mobile health IT startup from Youngstown, Ohio has ambitious plans to lead the development of a wellness network that would connect patients, restaurants, grocery stores, health insurance companies, employers and doctors.

Wellness Integrated Network (WIN) aims to use the massive amounts of data that would be housed on its network to develop diet plans for patients and help them track their compliance with the plans. The mobile wellness company’s goal is to combat obesity by giving people personalized diet programs tailored to their budgets, tastes and culinary skill levels, company founder Andrea Trgovcich said.

Users would check in to the mobile app when visiting a grocery store, for example, and the app would provide them with a shopping list and recipes that fit with their diet plans.

“This is something that’s big or it’s nothing because you’re talking about integrating huge amounts of data from grocery stores, restaurants and electronic health records from hospitals,” she said.

As with most ambitious plans, WIN is starting small. The three-year-old startup is working on a diet-compliance pilot study of its technology with Youngstown health system Humility of Mary Health Partners, which is also an equity investor in WIN. The 12-week study calls for the enrollment of 50 prediabetic children who will be given smart phones and nutrition plans to follow. Trgovcich hopes to eventually publish the study in a peer-reviewed journal.

Trgovcich’s goal in the study is for the app to increase users’ compliance with their nutrition plans by about 25 percent. She’s in talks with another hospital about expanding the study to as many as 300 patients. As part of the deal, that hospital would also become an equity partner in WIN.

Aside from the pilot study, which is slated to begin in the fall, another high priority for WIN is hiring a CEO. The company is working with Cleveland-based business development group JumpStart on the CEO search.

WIN has raised about $250,000 in investment funding so far, including a recent $25,000 grant from the Lorain County Community College’s Innovation Fund. Humility of Mary has funded WIN’s software development.

As with all startups, WIN has a long way to go. The most challenging part of its business plan is likely to be getting buy-in from so many disparate partners — grocery stores, restaurants and the like. Plus, with such massive amounts of data on its network, WIN will also need to partner with a large technology company.

Trgovcich knows developing the company will be a tough go, but believes that her idea for a wide-ranging wellness network makes too much sense not to happen.

“I know I can’t do this project on my own,” she said. “I’m just the visionary. It’s going to be done; the question is just who’s going to do it first?”

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