Interview with David Plans, Co-Founder and CEO of BioBeats

David Plans Biobeats

Tell us about BioBeats

At BioBeats, our mission is to free all people of mental health suffering. We use science and technology  to help people achieve better mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Our flagship product BioBase offers a new preventative approach to mental health support. Through an app and wearable device, BioBase collects health data in real-time – such as heart rate, sleep patterns, activity and mood. This allows BioBase to calculate a user’s baseline wellbeing score and provide personalised support.

As BioBase learns more about each user, it can provide personalised insights on sleep, activity and body stress. Using this real-time data, BioBase will recommend relevant tools with the app to help employees feel better – such as evidence-based therapies, deep breathing exercises and mindful meditation.

We offer BioBase as a corporate wellbeing programme, working with companies to help their employees improve their mental health and overall wellbeing. This, in turn, leads to improved productivity and reduced absence.

Just last month, BioBeats was acquired by Huma – a health tech company dedicated to using technology, data, and insights to proactively redefine health.


What’s the story behind the company?

The impetus for BioBeats happened long before I actually founded the company. Back in 2003, I was 30 years old, busy building a successful career, and that’s when I died of stress and exhaustion. Yes, you read that right. Although I had no underlying health conditions, the impact of stress on my body caused me to suffer a heart attack and literally flatline at Brussels airport. Luckily, I was resuscitated at the final possible moment and dedicated the next 15 years to studying the physiology, psychology and neuroscience behind human stress, eventually retraining as a neuroscientist and experimental psychologist. I was highly motivated to put my efforts towards a new approach.

With my background in artificial intelligence and music, I felt like there had to be a way to put my skills towards the greater good. My idea grew into a company devoted to helping people achieve better mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. I founded BioBeats in 2012 to help prevent stress-related illness and to change the perception of mental health globally through the use of artificial intelligence and big data.


Why is mental wellbeing at work so important?

Mental wellbeing at work is important because poor mental wellbeing costs UK employers up to £45 billion per year. Moreover, it affects every area of our lives. From affecting our ability to function, to our interaction with others, productivity, and even just our ability to enjoy life outside of work, it all comes down to positive mental wellbeing.

Poor mental wellbeing manifests itself in the workplace in various forms, including absences and stress-related burnout. When employee mental wellbeing isn’t looked after, employees are unable to perform at the top of their game, let alone enjoy their work.

Unfortunately, mental wellbeing is often an afterthought for people. Most people don’t look at their heart rate on a regular basis, or consider the possible implications of their workload. If there’s a deadline to hit or an important deal to be done, wellbeing is often a footnote. This can result in dire consequence, as evidenced by my personal story of stress-induced heart attack.

If we want to change our approach towards mental health on a global scale, we need to do so by being preventative rather than reactive. Employers can facilitate helping to foster positive mental wellbeing amongst their employees and those who do will reap the benefits of greater productivity, fewer absences, and lower overall employee turnover.


How can technology be used to improve employee mental wellbeing?

By using powerful AI-led technology, we are able to provide a comprehensive overview of each individualised person’s mental and physical wellbeing. This comprehensive overview allows companies offering BioBase to their employees to then provide tailored wellness solutions for each employee based on that employee’s unique needs. This approach to wellness goes beyond the one-size-fits-all programmes of gym memberships and fruit box subscriptions to truly help people feel and perform better.

We work with businesses who are committed to their workforce and who want to take a preventative approach to mental health and stress management. While the information we collect is completely private to each user, companies are able to learn through aggregated and anonymised data, to make better decisions around HR initiatives, prevent absenteeism, presenteeism and churn, and improve overall employee wellbeing and culture.

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