Personalised longevity in an app

Span taps into wearable data and connects you with a team of experts for personalised longevity guidance and programmes for nutrition, exercise and sleep.

When we first spoke to digital health company Span, the British start-up was predominantly focused on addressing nutritional aspects of longevity. Since then, the company has adjusted its strategy and today offers a mobile app that analyses wearable data and connects you with qualified experts to help guide you through a full range of longevity-optimising lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise and sleep.

Longevity.Technology: More and more people are interested in making lifestyle adjustments to optimise their healthspan, but every person is unique, so deciding what changes to try can be daunting. We caught up with Span co-founder and chief medical officer Dr Adam Bataineh to learn more about the company’s approach to personalised longevity.

A medical doctor by training, Bataineh has always had an interest in longevity, and this interest became a career after completing a Masters in genomic medicine and specialising in internal medicine. Two years ago, he joined forces with co-founders Rachel Lett, a registered nutritionist and expert in metabolic and gut health, and mobile software expert Patrick Samy, to start Span.

“We were more focused on nutrition to begin with, and the product was more of an automated nutrition coaching for people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome,” explains Bataineh. “But we learned a lot, and we found that most really engaged people who were using the product were people with a longevity focus.”

Expanding into personalised longevity

This led Span to broaden its approach and target health-conscious people who want to improve their health further and are generally interested in longevity.

“Nutrition is one tool, but there are other things that you can do that are very important,” says Bataineh. “So we have broadened our scope to provide general health coaching with a longevity focus, looking at things like exercise, sleep and nutrition.”

The kind of health conscious consumer that Span is targeting are typically also the kind of people who use health tracking wearables like WHOOP or the Oura Smart Ring, or continuous glucose monitors, and the company has already integrated its app with a wide range of popular devices.

“We are data-driven, and our approach is to analyse the data provided by these devices and then provide people with personalised advice based on that data,” says Bataineh, who stresses the company does not provide medical advice. Yet. “We are currently in the category of health coaching that is personalised for the user – we don’t diagnose diseases or change treatment plans.”

Establishing a longevity baseline

After syncing their wearable data with the Span app, a first-time user will then have a video consultation (through the app) with a longevity doctor like Bataineh and a nutritionist to inform what happens next.

“Based on information from the consultation, plus the wearable data, we put together a baseline and then we design experiments for the upcoming few weeks,” he explains. “These are usually small habit changes, or lifestyle changes that the person can easily implement in their life, and then we observe the effect on the on the metrics.”

Bataineh gives the example of a Span user whose wearable data indicated they weren’t getting enough deep sleep.

“Targeting deep sleep is different than targeting total sleep time, so based on the data we would go through certain kinds of interventions that will target these different issues,” he says. “Two months ago, we saw that a user wasn’t regularly getting deep sleep, but over the last few weeks, we can actually see from the data that his deep sleep is much more regular and longer than usual. And that was just because we recommended some simple self-guided interventions, based on established literature.”

Unlimited access to experts

Span’s “experiments” are provided through the app and changes are measured against the established baseline for each user. Span, which costs $150 per month, allows users to freely exchange unlimited messages with their health team through the app, as well as a monthly video check-in to review the programme and make adjustments.

“We start with the basics of sleep, exercise and nutrition – and for most people there’s a lot to cover in just the basics,” says Bataineh. “After that, we can start taking more advanced steps, but this will always be guided by the person.”

At this point, Span is focused on optimising the current version of the product, adding integrations and making it more automated. In the future, Bataineh says the goal is for the service to become even more sophisticated.

“My main interest is in the more advanced side of longevity, which would include prescribing medications and drugs that would potentially have an impact on lifespan. That’s where we want to go, and I think the same cohort of people who are interested in what we’re doing now will be interested in the more advanced interventions.”

Special offer for Longevity.Technology readers

Longevity.Technology readers can skip the waitlist and get 40% off Span forever. Risk-free for 30 days.

Mention Longevity.Technology when signing up to Span and work with an expert longevity coaching team, leveraging your data and wearables, including 23andme, Oura, Whoop, Apple Watch, Levels and other CGMs.

Images courtesy of Rawpixel, Ivan Torres / Unsplash