Longevity in the workplace

iamYiam’s SYD platform aims to improve employee life quality with AI.

With over half our lives spent at work, it’s no surprise that our workplace can play a major role in determining our Longevity. The pressures of modern working life often lead to debilitating levels of stress and anxiety, which not only affect our productivity, but also our health. But our time spent at work can also provide the opportunity to focus on our health – for the benefit of employees and employers alike.

Longevity.Technology: Preventive health company iamYiam is focused on empowering employees to become healthier and happier through its AI-powered personalised health platform. SYD, which stands for “see yourself differently” was only fully launched in 2019, and is already being used in workplaces in 32 countries. We caught up with iamYiam’s founder and CEO Lorena Puica ahead of SYD’s introduction into the US market next year.

AI-powered personalised health platform See Yourself Differently (SYD). Source: iamYiam

Puica came to Longevity after a high-flying career in investment management, the stresses of which ultimately took their toll on her.

“My nickname was ‘The Machine’ in my investment banking days,” she recalls. “I worked myself to the point of collapse, I did all-nighters, two to three times a week, and I was fine, I didn’t feel the stress.”

But things eventually caught up with Puica and she developed a thyroid and a heart condition.

“I was mis-medicated for three years and then I got pissed off,” she says. “For me, medicine was the ultimate science, I thought it’s rock solid, and it’s robust. But I realised that it’s probabilities to the max.”

Inspired to do something for herself, Puica threw herself into trying to understand what it means to be healthy.

“Long story short, I built a mini algorithm to figure out what was going on in myself, and over 18 months, I sorted out both my thyroid and my heart condition (arrhythmia),” she says. The process made her realise a lot of key information is missed when you only look at a person’s health at a single point in time – the transition between points is very important.

“The whole point of longevity and aging, all of that happens in the transition, not in the status quo analysis…”

“I thought there was clearly something in this space, and if I was going to have a go it would have to be now or never. So in 2015, I left my role in finance [to start iamYiam].”

With many wellness companies out there developing solutions for specific aspects of health, Puica felt that no one had cracked the “full picture view” or adopted a lifecycle approach that recognised the things that change over time. For two years, she and her team focused on “translating the sea of research” that their product would need to access to make informed assessments.

“We’ve gone through over 200,000 research papers and we realised that we need a framework to take all of that knowledge of the space and map it to a framework that we call the Life Quality Index,” says Puica. “That gives a view across physical health, emotional health, social career, finance, environment, brain health and so on and brought them into one picture.”

The company then got involved in looking at genetic aspects of our health, bringing out its own DNA testing kits and using the knowledge to identify more than 650,000 genetic biomarkers that are behind more than 45 health risks. Combining both these knowledge areas with biomedical informatics and machine learning led to the creation of the SYD platform, which is essentially a framework to understand an individual health as a process, rather than as a static picture.

The SYD platform provides a wide range of personalised health advice. Source: iamYiam

Puica quickly realised SYD was a natural fit for the workplace market.

“We saw that institutions wanted to help their people live healthier, better, longer lives, but they faced that knowledge barrier,” she says. “They wanted to help their employees on this path, but they didn’t have the tools. So our ethos, in terms of a ‘whole person’ view of longevity and life quality, became an all-in-one solution, which has been the key criteria for corporates choosing to work with us.”

SYD is essentially a “virtual companion” that employees interact with on a regular basis with the goal of improving their Life Quality Index score. The onboarding process is quick – two minutes of multiple choice questions.

“From the onboarding journey, you’ll have recommendations, and then with every interaction, those get adapted and updated,” explains Puica, likening SYD to “a friend that knows everything that’s happening in longevity and prevention.”

Mapping Life Quality Index. Source: iamYiam

An early version of SYD was launched in 2017, but last year was its full commercial introduction, and Puica says that the company is now touching “close to 100,000 lives.”

“SYD users over the first 12 months on average achieve a nearly 30% increase in Life Quality Index, across all dimensions…”

“We’ve partnered with distributors, we have the largest healthcare group in Asia Pacific, we have the largest chain of hospitals in the Middle East, we have one of the largest digital insurance firms in India, we have the largest mutual insurer in Canada, and we’re preparing the right entry strategy for the US market.”

“The product can be either white labelled or co-branded, or in our brand name. It just saves a lot of time and effort for an insurer or a healthcare group to build something themselves. For them, it makes sense to partner and then take this to their clients.”

As far as results go, SYD users over the first 12 months on average achieve a nearly 30% increase in Life Quality Index, across all dimensions.

“During COVID, we have seen in the data, very clear metrics of mental health starting to go down in our cohorts, and financial health literally plummeting,” says Puica. “So our platform is tracking reality.”

Images courtesy of iamYiam