Wisdo Health, an evidence-based peer support community platform, today announced that Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, former Aetna Chief Medical Officer at CVS Health, has joined its team as a Senior Medical Advisor. A purpose-driven physician executive, primary care doctor, and public health advocate, Dr. Rhee has spent over two decades in the nonprofit, public, and private healthcare sectors, including past leadership roles with IBM, HRSA, and NIH. Dr. Rhee will closely collaborate with Wisdo’s leadership and board members, such as Dr. Dena Bravata and Brian Marcotte, to enhance Wisdo’s position as the leading organization in combating the detrimental effects of loneliness and social isolation on health outcomes, costs, and engagement. In May 2023, Dr. Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, released the first-ever Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.
Today, over 50% of adults suffer from loneliness making it more prevalent than obesity, mental health, and diabetes. Studies have revealed that lacking social connections poses a danger equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes daily. Insufficient or poor social connectivity may also lead to physical health problems, including a 29% higher risk of heart disease and a 50% higher chance of developing dementia in older adults. Loneliness may also affect a person’s motivation to enroll and stay engaged in clinical programs, decrease in physical activity, poor dietary habits, and sleep problems. Additionally, loneliness doubles the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety and is the strongest predictor of suicidal ideation.
“It is time we address the loneliness epidemic as an urgent threat to the health of our population as well as financial sustainability of the US healthcare system,” said Dr. Rhee. “I am thrilled to join the Wisdo team to advance their unique platform and its opportunity to further prioritize prevention of the mental and physical health risks associated with feelings of loneliness.” Wisdo is a data-driven social health and peer support community platform designed to enable health plans, self-insured employers, and government agencies to cost-effectively reduce the devastating consequences of loneliness and social isolation on health outcomes, costs, and engagement rates. With over 500,000 members joined to date, the platform uses AI to map users’ life challenges, goals, and obstacles to health, and then proactively connects them with helpful peers who have been trained to provide emotional support. Through Wisdo, members enjoy emotional support, weekly group coaching to build healthy habits, and referrals to clinical and Social Determinants of Health solutions offered by their employer and health plan.
Multiple studies have shown that Wisdo is effective in reducing loneliness, depression, and anxiety while providing superior engagement and retention rates, improving quality of life, satisfaction with health plan and employer, and reducing medical costs at over $1,000 per member per year, providing a 5-7x return on investment to its clients.Dr. Rhee was most recently Senior Vice President and Aetna Chief Medical Officer at CVS Health. Prior to that, he was Chief Health Officer at IBM for a decade. Before IBM, Dr. Rhee was Chief Public Health Officer at the Health Resources and Services Administration, the primary federal agency for improving access to healthcare services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. Dr. Rhee also previously served as director of the Office of Innovation and Program Coordination at the National Institutes of Health, the primary federal agency for medical research. Prior to his public service, Dr. Rhee practiced as a primary care physician for the National Health Service Corps and Chief Medical Officer in community health settings in Washington, DC, and Baltimore.
“We’re honored to welcome Dr. Rhee to our team. We are also humbled by his record as a leader in identifying solutions that can impact the health and well-being of Americans at scale. The mission to end the Loneliness Epidemic has recently received a major boost with the publishing of the Surgeon’s General Advisory. Wisdo, now with the added support of Dr. Rhee, continues our commitments to addressing this concern by changing the quality, depth, and health of human-to-human connections.”
Wisdo Health is an online peer support community and social health platform designed to address the harmful consequences of loneliness, social isolation, and lack of engagement on health outcomes and costs. Wisdo uses a data-driven model to map users’ life challenges, goals, and obstacles to health, then proactively connects them with helpful peers who have been in their shoes. Through Wisdo, members enjoy emotional support, weekly group coaching to build social skills, and referrals to clinical and SDOH solutions offered by their employer and health plan. To date, over 500,000 adults have joined Wisdo. Learn more at http://www.wisdo.com