For the first time since it launched three years ago, the Livongo glucose meter paired with a coaching service is now available for PWDs (people with diabetes) to purchase directly without having to go through their doctors, clinics or employers.

On May 11, California-based Livongo Health announced this much-anticipated direct-to-consumer availability through what it dubs the Family Care Plan. This allows individuals to simply go online and buy the meter+services themselves instead of navigating that purchase process through a doctor, hospital, employer, or health insurance plan.

For a refresher, Livongo (established 2014) offers patients a pretty cool package deal: Their aesthetic little vertical-rectangular meter with color touchscreen not only uses cellular connectivity to beam results directly to a smartphone app, but also connects users directly with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) for 24/7 support via text/ phone/ email. And users receive unlimited test strips each month as part of their subscription-based model.

We’ve written at length about Livongo’s product and recently reviewed their app-based CDE coaching program. What’s exciting now is seeing this become available to a far wider swath of PWDs!

The Livongo plan costs $49.99 per month, with a minimum three-month commitment to start.

But that’s not all.

Powerhouse Advocacy Partners

In what may be a first of its kind in the diabetes world, Livongo Health has partnered with four powerhouse diabetes nonprofits — JDRF, American Diabetes Association, Beyond Type 1, and Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) — to create an innovative charitable donation program they’re describing as ” a groundbreaking way to fund vital research and advocacy programs.”

Basically, for JDRF, Beyond Type 1, and the Diabetes Hands Foundation, Livongo will make a $3 donation every month on behalf of each member who signs up through dedicated “microsites” (links below). And for ADA, Livongo has pledged financial support for the org’s programs and efforts aimed at underserved diabetes communities.

Specific “micro-site” sign up pages for the three groups: JDRF, Beyond Type 1 and Diabetes Hands Foundation.

This also began May 11, 2017, and will remain in place for at least three years, we’re told.

Livongo’s commercial marketing director Theresa Champagne says that “based on the tremendous response” seen in the employer market, they believe thousands could sign up for this Family Care Plan from each of the groups. The donations will be made quarterly and will be unrestricted, meaning it’s up to each particular organization to decide how it could use that money most effectively.

She also says that beyond just the $3 per member monthly donation, Livongo will be supporting JDRF/DHF/BT1 through sponsorships and grants to a variety of existing programs each of the orgs has in place, but she declined to offer specifics at this time.

The ADA is not included in that monthly donation aspect, but instead has reached an agreement in which Livongo will donate an unspecified amount to the ADA to use for its underserved population efforts, whether ongoing programs or something new that may come from this collaboration. This remains in what both Livongo and ADA describe as “early stages” of fleshing out details.

Livongo leaders tell us: “Access to care for underserved communities is something that both (Livongo CEO) Glen Tullman and ADA’s interim CEO Martha Clark care deeply about, and it surfaced as a very important topic of joint work from the moment they first talked.”

In a statement, ADA’s Martha Clark says the organization “fully supports the development of innovative programs to assist people who are living with diabetes in achieving better health outcomes. We are particularly pleased to see the development of digital solutions focused on addressing the high cost of treating diabetes, as well as access to quality care and education that meets our standards.”

Even aside from the $3 per month donation component, Livongo estimates that the charity program will provide more than $250,000 for these groups’ efforts.

That’s great news of course! And equally exciting is seeing how Livongo’s package of smart meter + unlimited strips +  CDE-services should become more visible and accessible across both urban and rural regions around the country, potentially providing valuable benefit to even low-income and minority populations. So good to see commercial companies and nonprofit orgs like ADA combining efforts to help address social, cultural and economic disparities.

Encouraging Give-Back

“We think that our program is unique in diabetes,” Champagne tells us. “We feel it’s important to support the critical diabetes research and advocacy run by our partners, and we want to encourage other companies to do the same. Imagine the impact we’d have if every digital health, medical device, and pharmaceutical company also donated a portion of their proceeds to help find a cure!”

Adding to that, Champagne says that Livongo’s model of partnering with multiple leading orgs and providing recurring contributions is a first-of-its-kind outside the D-industry, too. She points to other companies outside of healthcare that have used charitable giving for good, in ways Livongo hopes to replicate:

“Our aim is to generate the same kind of funding and meaningful impact as these organizations,” Champagne says.

Certainly sounds admirable. Regardless of what one may think of corporate giving and sponsorships and how particular organizations use donations, it’s tough to argue with the good that is being put forward here.

Well done, Livongo!

btw, among other small D-Industry players making efforts to do good for the community is the very new Canada-based business Good Glucos that’s using its subscriber contributions to give back to those who can’t afford test strips and need them most. We plan a report on that soon, so stay tuned.