Prana Diabetes provides HabitNu, a scalable, evidence-based diabetes prevention and management program combining education, peer support and state of the art mobile technology. The program enables simple phone-based monitoring and recording of key health parameters while also leveraging a patient’s personal support network. Prana Diabetes graduated from Impact Engine’s former accelerator program in 2015. We caught up with Sindhu Rajan, founder and CEO of Prana Diabetes, to hear more about HabitNu and the future of the organization.

Tell us about HabitNu and the benefits of a support community when managing Type II Diabetes.

We know that Diabetes Self Management Education and Support (DSMES) programs are successful, and that 83% of those with access attend.  However, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), only 7% of the 30 million people with diabetes actually have access. Classroom-based programs are simply not scalable and they don’t fit the needs of a working population. HabitNu is a 16-week diabetes prevention or management program that is based closely on CDC’s successful classroom based Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), but delivered to smartphones and tablets. It includes a comprehensive program with a toolbox for managing diet and exercise, weekly 5-minute interactive videos and text messages, and a system that allows you to link in your support network. Peer support is an integral component of successful chronic disease management. Research studies demonstrate that people with diabetes want support from an empathetic source. HabitNu has a private social network platform for participants where they are encouraged to talk about successes, challenges and failures.

You were recently one of six companies recognized by the ADA for your efforts to stop diabetes. Why do you believe the ADA is focused on integrating startups and new technologies into their work?

The ADA is on the forefront of combatting diabetes from all angles, from innovative solutions to advocacy, and has been a strong supporter of Prana Diabetes from the beginning. This year, the ADA launched the Venture to Stop Diabetes program to highlight technologies that address the problems facing the diabetes community. We are also partnering with the ADA to launch CDC’s national diabetes prevention program in Chicago starting October 11th, 2016. For more information, visit dppchicago.com.

Since Impact Engine, you’ve gone on to work out of MATTER. How has being a part of a healthcare focused co-working space helped you to grow your business?

We are very grateful to Impact Engine for providing us with a springboard to launch Prana Diabetes. MATTER is a startup hub for healthcare innovation that connects entrepreneurs, scientists, physicians, investors and industry partners. The vibrant environment, mentors and collaboration with other MATTER companies have been central to our business development process. For example, our partnership with Advocate Heart Institute started with an introduction from one of our mentors at MATTER.

What is your vision for Prana Diabetes?  How will you make the biggest difference in fighting diabetes?

We are working towards a day when every individual diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes is given a prescription for the HabitNu program.  Beyond that, we expect to be a pioneer in digital therapeutics, striving to become the “beyond the pill” solution to chronic disease management.

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