Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and U.K. Though many smokers want to quit, DigiThera CEO Yusuf Sherwani says doctors are “terrible” at addressing the root causes of addiction.
After a family member died from smoking-related issues at a young age, Sherwani, a med school grad, realized that by helping smokers understand the circumstances that trigger their impulse to light up, they could be encouraged to make healthier decisions.
Sherwani teamed up with two fellow London doctors to build a mobile app, called Quit Genius, that replicates in digital form the kind of in-person cognitive behavioral therapy that’s been proven to help patients change habits. The app, which launched in December 2017, combines educational content with text message-based coaching from therapists. Smokers can engage with Quit Genius every day and check in after relapses.
More than 800,000 people are using Quit Genius, and 60,000 say they’ve stopped smoking. Sherwani is now partnering with the U.K.’s National Health Service and private employers to expand the app’s reach.