Stress is a global health issue and SOMA Analytics aims to use big data to tackle it. A German startup based in London’s TechCity, SOMA Analytics builds evidence-based mobile health programs to increase the emotional resilience of employees, thus reducing the risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
The startup is part of Healthbox, an accelerator program that’s supported by leading universities, researchers and clinicians in the fields of sleep medicine and occupational psychology. In today’s interview with Johann Huber, CEO and co-founder of SOMA Analytics, we talk about the way forward for the company and the amazing benefits big data can bring to the health sector.
SOMA Analytics used to be a smartphone app to help people measure stress and depression. Now the startup changed its business model to target the B2B market. Why did you make this move?
Through several tests with consumers and companies we learned that we can provide much more value for the individual if we offer our solution in a B2B context. From research we also know that in most cases work is the main cause of stress. Our solution now helps employees and employers.
Could you briefly explain how the SOMA Analytics 21-day program works?
You install our app on your phone and it starts by itself – no other devices such as wristbands or endless questionnaires are required. The app measures parameters such as sleep quality and emotions experienced during phone calls with scientifically validated algorithms. We combine these measurements with further parameters, and, based on these readings, each individual receives personalized tips and feedback on how to reduce the impact of stress. For example, by the end of the program the customer knows exactly how long he should sleep to be optimally refreshed, or if he should go to bed early or late. In addition, he also sees which of the contacts he calls is likely to put him in a relaxed or stressed mood. The user can then apply the feedback he gets and immediately sees the impact on his measurements.
How can big data contribute to the development of the health sector and what role do startups play in this scenario?
In essence, the health system is nothing but information interpretation. Even 2000 years ago, a doctor did nothing but collect information, interpret it, and make a diagnosis. Big data is basically doing the same thing only on a much larger scale. The only thing is, the two approaches haven’t been working together much yet. Startups could be the missing link that brings health and big data together. Startups are the nucleus of innovation. Through serendipity, sheer determination, and persistence they make ideas real that large health corporations are not able to even dream of, simply because corporations have a completely different mindset. However, especially in health care it is extremely important to find strong corporate partners that bring the credibility needed in the industry.
What are your expectations for CODE_n and the future of SOMA Analytics?
SOMA Analytics has the power to shape the workplace of tomorrow. Because – for the first time ever – we are in a position to quantify the effects different organizational settings have on the health and productivity of employees, as well as the changes that are needed to create a fruitful working environment. However, we are just at the beginning of this massive change process so we hope that CODE_n can provide us with the right platform and contacts to make this change happen.