WellTheory, a platform to help manage autoimmune disease, unveils enterprise offering

WellTheory, a platform focused on reducing autoimmune disease symptoms, has unveiled an enterprise product for employers and payers looking to offer autoimmune care.

The new product aims to tackle the hidden costs and productivity impacts of untreated autoimmune diseases. It will include a community-based program that gives members access to events, tools, experts and peer support. 

WellTheory offers evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle coaching services to manage and reduce the symptoms that keep employees sick and costs high. Employing dietitians and board-certified health coaches, the platform is built by and for autoimmune patients. 

Autoimmune disorders disproportionately affect women and can be difficult to diagnose. There is usually no specific test to show whether a patient has a particular disease. One in five Americans suffer from an autoimmune condition today, according to one estimate. The associated cost of autoimmune diseases has become a significant portion of the rising cost of healthcare in the U.S.

“The need for affordable and effective autoimmune care has never been greater—invisible illnesses affect 15% of the workforce with 78% of full-time workers reporting that their job performance has suffered as a result,” Ellen Rudolph, co-founder and CEO of WellTheory, said in a press release. “Since inception, we’ve been on a mission to transform the way autoimmune disease is treated.”

The company was born out of Rudolph’s own experiences interacting with the healthcare system. At 25 years old, she was left bedridden with a chronic health mystery. 

“I had many doctors dismiss my symptoms, tell me I’m too young to be sick,” Rudolph told Fierce Healthcare. “I didn’t really accept those answers and kept looking.” She said she realized what she was dealing with was autoimmune in nature, and she had to change her lifestyle and diet to reclaim her health. 

Rudolph shared her journey on TikTok, which went viral overnight, she recalled. That validated to her how underserved this community is, she said.

Since launching direct-to-consumer in November 2022, WellTheory said it has achieved a 100% improvement reduction in fatigue, pain or general life satisfaction within 12 weeks. It has also seen an 88% lifetime member engagement rate since enrollment, and an 85% decrease in ER and urgent care visits within 16 weeks. The company has saved more than an estimated $10,000 annually per member on biologics. 

“We’re really trying to create an anti-symptom-masking model that goes beyond the pill,” Rudolph said.

In the traditional healthcare system, patients with autoimmune conditions must deal with being labeled as chronic complainers or navigate a highly fragmented system of specialists, Rudolph noted. But those providers often don’t address the root cause of symptoms. 

WellTheory is meant to be complementary to an existing care team to manage patients between visits. Helping them implement lifestyle changes and stick to their treatment plan is what drives long-term outcomes, Rudolph said. To date, the company has serviced 50 distinct conditions in the cash-pay population and counting.

When it comes to engaging users, Rudolph believes them to already be a highly motivated population. About 25% of patients with one autoimmune condition develop others. As people see improvements in their quality of life, they will be more motivated to continue using WellTheory, Rudolph said.

“This is a population that’s really desperate for solutions,” she said.

The out-of-pocket cost for WellTheory is $125 a month. But that can be a big barrier to patients, which is why the company wanted to pursue an enterprise offering early on that can be a covered benefit. 

There is strong interest from employers and payers so far, Rudolph said though did not specify names. Several contracts will go live in 2024. WellTheory is also offering return on investment and other performance guarantees to initial customers.