At this New Year's resolution-making time of year, committing to new healthy habits for our diabetes management is top of mind for many.
Of possible help is a new video app called KingFit that launched in the latter half of last year, and is now available in the Apple and Google Play stores.
It's diabetes education packaged in dynamic video format, optimized for smartphone viewing -- in other words, a next-gen way for people with diabetes to get answers to basic D-living questions at their own pace, quickly and easily, on-the-go.
The brief videos are hosted by a “dream team” of top certified diabetes educators (CDEs) focusing on Diabetes 101, nutrition and exercise, and behavioral health.
Of course, this isn't the first venture to use compelling short videos for diabetes education; Diabetes What To Know comes to mind as a pioneer in this space. But KingFit brings it to a fresh mobile app platform.
The tiny digital health startup based in Wichita, Kansas, kicked off in 2015. They've even taken a video approach to their own journey, posting a series of behind-the-scenes vlogs on YouTube chronicling their growth as a diabetes startup: from finding investors to working with CDEs and building the mobile platform from the ground up.
A quick Google search may bring up CEO Miguel Johns, a recognized health and wellness guru who’s not personally living with diabetes but has family with T2D. That's what got him started on the exercise science path in college and eventually paved the way to this KingFit mobile health app for diabetes education.
He says, "We want to help everyone who does not get to see a diabetes educator because their insurance doesn't cover it, they can't make it because of the day and time, or there is not an (offering) in their county.”
With almost half of all U.S. counties not offering D-education, there’s clearly a need for more help – which Johns cites as a big reason that KingFit’s mHealth app is being offered for free.
Here’s a look at what KingFit is all about, straight from the CEO's mouth.
An Interview with KingFit Founder Miguel Johns
DM) How would you describe KingFit?
MJ) For people with diabetes, KingFit provides a mobile application that delivers diabetes education from industry experts to the palm of your hand for free. The user can simply download the app from either app store, press two buttons, and begin learning from a certified diabetes educator. Our app works great for people without access to high quality DSME (Diabetes Self Management Education) programs, and it works great as a "between appointments" resource for chronic disease management programs with CDEs on staff. The videos are not published on YouTube, they are only on the mobile app.
Who’s on this “dream team” of diabetes experts?
There four experts at this point:
- Fundamentals: Theresa Garnero, diabetes nurse educator and author of Your First Year with Diabetes
- Exercise: Dr. Sheri Colberg, a heath exercise coach and a longtime type 1 for nearly a half-century
- Behavioral: Dr. Susan Guzman, licensed clinical psychologist specializing in diabetes and co-founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute
- Nutrition: Sherri Shafer, registered dietician and CDE who authored Carb Counting for Dummies
Besides being educational, do the videos spur any action for viewers?
Yes, that's the whole idea. Our principal is "Small Wins = Real Progress" -- a philosophy that you need to "be patient and persistently move forward" if you want to change things for the better. This is explained in our fun video about The Toothpick Story.
Users can also receive a morning motivational message that inspires action.
Where did this idea come from?
My dad and my grandmother both have type 2 diabetes as well as many other family members. I was at Indiana State University getting my degree in Exercise Science to help them and other people improve their health, when I came across a documentary called Escape Fire. It’s all about the failing healthcare system and it inspired me to start an online health coaching service that worked with physicians to improve outcomes. I was very interested in how educational YouTube channels were able to have millions of subscribers and how the same video principles could be brought to healthcare.
After a year of running the health coaching service, and testing how video inspired behavior change, we began pitching the idea to the community so that we could build a technology for the service. We met a great advisor/investor who challenged us to take it to the next level by focusing on the technology versus the coaching services.
How did you start focusing on diabetes education?
As I began pitching the idea of a diabetes-focused application, we got amazing feedback from hundreds of healthcare professionals. We spoke with a few very connected CDEs and they pointed us in the direction of DSME. The combination of the healthcare professionals' feedback, modern popular mobile app research, and YouTube/Facebook video research created the application we have today. I think what makes our app different is its convenience and simplicity. It is very easy to use but delivers life-saving value.
What's actually behind the name "KingFit"?
We wanted to share the message that everyone has the power inside them to "rule their being" with a healthy body and mind -- to be a King of their health and wellness.
What's the response been like so far?
The early response has been amazing. In a few months after the launch, with very limited funds, we signed up 250 beta testers via social media videos and referrals. As of the first week of January, we have 60 videos posted on our channel with 20 more on the way in the next month.
We also have secured a clinical launch site with Via Christi Health, a hospital system with 12 hospitals. And we have landed our first partner, KeyCentrix, a pharmaceutical software company that will expand our reach to over 1,200 pharmacies across the nation.
Can you tell us more about working with pharmacies and clinics?
Right now, the idea is to have our app as an offered tool in which we would be paid per view.
We will be testing this model with KeyCentrix and the 1,200 pharmacies they serve. Of course, we must first complete our clinical pilot studies showing that view-time of diabetes education improves health outcomes.
Right now, the idea with KeyCentrix is that we will be included in their NewLeafRx Software as an offered tool for the pharmacists. The pharmacy that pays KeyCentrix for the software would pay a small premium (per view) to include our app in their protocol for their PWD population. The pharmacy would receive patient population data and would have access to deliver messaging via our app. We’re working to hammer out the details over the next month.
The other model is based on our user-base size. The goal is to partner with large device/pharma companies like Novo Nordisk, JnJ, Dexcom, etc, and allow them to sponsor our video content. In return, we would deliver consumer insights data and play their ad videos in our app.
We are still very early on both of these models and 2018 will offer a lot of learning experience. Either way, the app will remain free for PWDs.
Do you plan to expand this beyond video-watching?
We have big plans for future development of the app including some amazing gamified experiences. We are kicking off these new developments in late January.
Ooh, can you share more about the gamification?
That's based on engagement. Users will earn points for watching the content, logging small wins, connecting with other users, knowing their numbers, and being active in health management activities suggested by the educators. Their points will unlock badges and there will be leader boards and competitions in which the users can win prizes.
One of the most exciting parts of the gamification will be the design. Users will have the option to experience the app in an entirely new way. Although I do not want to give away too many details, think of a map from Clash of the Clans except instead of barracks, there’s a gym, a grocery store, etc.
What’s your main goal for KingFit in 2018?
To establish some partnerships with device/pharma/supply companies or health companies so that people can get discounts on things to help them manage their health.
So that’s the story behind KingFit -- which looks like it may be a great resource for the newly diagnosed, or any PWD looking to refresh their knowledge or tackle a diabetes-related New Year’s resolution. Yep, there's an app for that!