Express News Service
“Every human being is unique and each reacts uniquely to different treatments. Just look at the pandemic, its range of symptoms, and its various treatments. Every Covid case is different. We want to help our users identify every factor of their physical and mental well-being, their potential risks for diseases, and the best ways to prevent or at least treat these,” says Manish Kumar, Founder, wellOwise.
wellOwise is a New Delhi-based AI-backed HealthTech start-up that provides preventive measures for potential chronic diseases in individuals, evaluated through the study of their genetics. Kumar started it with geneticist Dr Saher Mehdi, who as the company’s chief scientist, works with a team of advisors – all experts in computational biology, gastronomy, biotechnology and behavioural psychology – around India and abroad to help their clients.
“We are the first precision health start-up that brings together various elements of an individual’s health — genetics, diet, lifestyle and blood, for prediction, timely prevention and efficient management of chronic diseases. The patent-pending processes we use are definitely a first for India and something only a handful of companies are providing abroad,” elaborates Kumar.
Comprising an app as well as an online platform, wellOwise is meant to be a comprehensive program that does not just anticipate your potential for illnesses but also how to mitigate and manage them. Their programme begins with you filling a detailed questionnaire that covers everything from your family to everyday habits followed by a blood sample collection from your home, after which all the necessary information is gleaned through its AI, and assessed by medical and genetic experts, following which the service puts together a suite of services for you, including lifestyle changes, consultations with doctors and specialists and more.
“The current approach to healthcare, especially in India, is mostly reactive rather than preventive, as we wait for detectable clinical symptoms before taking any action. So, we have taken an immersive approach to analyse both genetic and epigenetic factors (diet, habits, behaviour) that affect our health in order to dissect the granularity of health,” elaborates Kumar, adding, “We look at an individual’s health data from multiple levels to gain insights: granular markers like changes at the gene level as well as broad patterns like food habits and time-sensitive clinical markers like glucose levels. Our AI-based platform then converts these insights to identify the predictors of health and strategically tailor therapeutic dietary and lifestyle intervention for each person.”
The whole process of the program, right from onboarding to data collection, reporting, tracking, to adherence of recommendations is supported by the wellOwise app and personalised health coaching, with Kumar pointing out, “Our app gives a comprehensive risk prediction of 200 traits across, health, nutrition and fitness, along with tracking activity, diet, poop, mood and changes in the other health parameters,” informs Kumar, adding that almost 70,000 people have expressed interest in their services so far.
While Kumar and Mehdi first thought up of the program in 2018, the service launched (softly) only last year, given the reams of research that Mahedi and her team had to do to set-up a genetics database in India, a country where genome sequencing is still quite untapped when compared to other countries. The company also has ongoing research collaborations in the UK and Turkey, with a vision to extend offerings in these markets.