Julia Hu founded Lark Health — and then spent the next six years fueled by the inspiration that if the team worked smart and hard enough, Lark would one day create an AI-enabled virtual care platform.
Eight years later, Lark’s AI-enabled technology has earned CDC Full Recognition and, working with hundreds of partners, served nearly 2 million people with or at risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and prediabetes.
Health Evolution spoke with Hu about Lark’s origin story, the most difficult challenge the company overcame along the way, and her advice for other innovator CEOs.
With CleanTechOpen and StartX you have a strong background in innovation. So, what is the inspiration fueling Lark? What’s the origin story?
Hu: I’ve always loved startups but the inspiration to jump into health care was that I have been a very large consumer of health care since I was a child. I grew up with a chronic condition that was very painful and undiagnosed for 25 years. My father had to quit his job to be my caretaker. We went to dozens of specialists, but finally found a pediatrician who worked with us once a week for 12 years to identify coping mechanisms. We changed everything to find the solution, how I ate, sleep, medications, exercise and identified patterns to eliminate 95 percent of my attacks. I was so appreciative of that, and also recognize that it is unrealistic for the billion-plus people who have a chronic condition or at high risk to get this kind of care, so we felt we had to bend the curve in a different way. Coming from the tech startup world at MIT and Stanford before that, we knew right away that we had to attempt to apply the burgeoning technologies behind conversational AI to provide that compassionate care at scale. That began my long journey eight years ago.