Christine Lemke on Evidation’s Push to Use Wearables in Healthcare

On a recent episode of the Moneyball Medicine podcast, host Harry Glorikian interviewed Evidation Co-CEO Chrstine Lemke on what Evidation does, its history, and how its work has evolved since the company started.

Smart devices like Fitbits and Apple Watches are with us all the time, and so much of the time the data can go far beyond telling you if you’ve finished your 10,000 steps for the day. But the data comes in so many forms from so many sources that it’s very difficult to set up population-wide studies and keep the incoming data organized and anonymized. That, in a nutshell, is what Evidation does.

It all started when The Activity Exchange, a company Lemke helped to start, merged with another company called Evidation.

“We came from this background of tech and behavior-based targeting and large-scale compute and AI, and you guys and Deb [said], ‘guys, guys, guys, this is the healthcare industry, it works really differently over here. You have no idea what you’re doing. You actually have no idea of the value you’re building if it’s pointed in the right direction.’ And those two viewpoints are really what combine to give Evidation its superpowers,” Lemke said.

In its early years, Evidation focused on helping other companies prove that real-life data from consumer wearables was reliable enough to be useful in health decisions.

As Evidation looks toward the coming years, “that’s what you’ll see more of our company talking about: How do we engage individuals and motivate action? Based [on] a lot of our work we’ve done to understand therapy effectiveness in the wild, how do we do that in a delivery setting versus just a study setting or research setting in which we do it today?”

Now Evidation works mostly with big tech and big pharma companies such as Eli Lilly and Apple to test specific ideas, such as whether data from people’s smartwatches and smartphones can help predict cardiovascular disease or cognitive decline early enough to help slow or reverse the conditions with new drugs.

“Our first weave and bob was to focus on biopharma. Everyone was trying to get us to go to employers, payers, things like that,” Lemke said. “We went completely the other direction, we said, ‘no, no, no, biopharma is where it’s at.’ We made a bet on that, that bet has turned out well for us.”

While people once said consumer-grade wearables couldn’t be used to determine, for example, the risk of heart failure, “it turns out that yes, you can. You just have to know the right way to combine the noisy data you might be getting from a consumer-grade wearable at the time with the clinical data and clinical history, and with patient-reported outcomes in the moment,” Lemke said. “When you combine all these things, that’s where you get power, you get more sensitivity and specificity.”

While Evidation has been doing research studies with biopharma, “our second act is going to be how we apply those measures, provide some of those measures back to individuals, and really motivate the next best action, especially in conditions where it’s not clear what to do next,” Lemke said.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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