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Combining mobile, big data and AI to improve rehabilitation services
I'm old enough to have parents, in-laws, and extended family undergo treatment for cancer, heart attacks and other ailments and observe how arcane the flow of information seems to be among patients, caregivers and doctors, especially during rehabilitation.
With the proliferation of smart phones and advanced capabilities in storage and artifical intelligence, we're starting to see innovation to help improve this communication process, and hopefully as a result, the care provided.
Wellframe, a 20-person startup founded in 2011, just raised $8.5 million in a Series A round, from DFJ, with participation from San Francisco-based Formation 8, Cambridge, Ma.-based Waterline Ventures and LA-based Queensbridge Venture Partners. The relatively big A round comes just five months after Wellframe's $1.5 million Seed round, raised this past April from angels, including DFJ co-founder Tim Draper.
Boston-based Wellframe is building a mobile platform to allow physicians to provide care to their patients when they leave the hospital through their mobile phone or tablet. Wellframe works on all iOS and Android devices. While Wellframe hopes to be a platform that's agnostic to the type of rehabilitation care it provides, the typical patient today has coronary heart diseases, pulmonary disorders or diabetes, said Jacob Sattelmair, co-founder and CEO.
When they leave the hospital, their mobile device is set up to give a daily health checklist, including medication reminders, educational information about their condition, as well as to do's, such as walk for 10 minutes.
Wellframe uses a phone's accelerometer, a built-in component on phones that measures tilt and motion gestures, to track a person's activity, such as steps taken. Through data mining, Wellframe hopes to provide more personalized up-to-date information, such as walk 15 minutes a day, or it may provide information based on symptoms a patient may be experiencing, based on answers to questions about how they're feeling.
This process may sound like talking to one of those automated phone attendants when calling your cable company or phone provider or Apple phone support. But just as those automated attendants have gotten smarter, the platform is designed to as well. In addition, the physician has visibility to the data and can provide real-time input and advice as well.
To be clear, the clinical programs on the Wellframe platform are not just 'rehab' programs, but also include post-acute / transitional care, chronic care management, medication management, primary prevention, and others, said Sattelmair.
The effectiveness of the mobile service will depend on multiple factors: a patient's ability to rely on their mobile device (anyone over the age of 60 might not be so used to relying on a mobile device for care), the reliability of Wellframe's algorithms to learn and adapt from the incoming data and the adoption by physicians.
It's still too early to tell to what extent the Wellframe mobile service is saving physician's time and money and improving healthcare, though theoretically it sure sounds like it should. What's more, Wellframe probably wouldn't have been able to raise $10M in the past year if it weren't showing good results.
Sattlemair wouldn't disclose how much the software is helping to save in healthcare costs. But he did say that the software had been used by thousands of patients already over the last year. And the incentives for doctors and health plans are pretty strong.
"Healthcare providers are increasingly responsible for delivering (and demonstrating) positive clinical and financial outcomes among patients, which is shifting their incentives and motivating them to better manage care on an ongoing basis (ie between the moments when the patients in in heir office)," Sattlemair explained.
Sattlemair is part of a four-person founding team that on paper looks very impressive. When you look at the team, it almost doesn't seem surprising. Venture capitalists love "teams" with different expertise and with shared experiences, meaning they've worked together or gone to school together. The four founders are all scientists or technologists who've in one shape or form spent time together in school or at previous jobs.
The team consists of Sattelmair, who has his PhD in public health and a background as a product manager at an enterprise health tech company (far left); Trishan Panch, an MD who is Chief Medical Office (far right), Vinnie Ramesh, CTO, is an MIT-trained engineer with expertise in machine learning (second to left), and Archit Bhise, Chief Product Officer, is also an MIT-trained engineer with expertise in data mining.
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Wellframe is a Boston-based Health Technology company that combines mobile technology, artificial intelligence and human-centered process design to amplify healthcare resources and improve patient care. Wellframe partners with leading health plans, providers and healthcare service providers to extend the reach of care management services to support patients toward improved experience, care plan adherence and health outcomes. Wellframe's team is composed of clinicians, engineers, data scientists and service professionals dedicated to re-engineering the delivery of healthcare services in order to provide higher value healthcare for patients.