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There's nothing worse than chronic illness, especially for people who are polychronic, meaning they are dealing with at least three chronic diseases. This segment of the population is sadly growing: while there were 30.8 million patients like this in 2015, that's expected to more than double to 83.4 million patients in 2030.
As someone very close to me who suffers from a number of different chronic ailments has put it, "When you're chronically ill, taking care of yourself is a full-time job."
"Chronic illness puts a lot of stress on individuals to take care of themselves in ways that maybe aren't always seen in the doctor's office or with an insurance company or at a pharmacy. There's this element of aftercare, as we call it, where a patient goes home and they continue to take care of themselves and be at the helm of that regimen," said Luke Buchanan, co-founder and CEO of Redi.Health, a provider of a health management technology platform for polychronic patients, which announced a seed funding round led by Mutual Capital Partners, along with M25, Rev1 Ventures and Plug and Play, on Wednesday.
While there are a lot of digital health apps out there right now, many of them only take care of one aspect of a person's health, he explained. What Redi found was that the majority, over 80 percent, of patients who have highly complex, polychronic conditions, don't want is to use tools that just do one thing, even if it does that one thing really well. Instead, what they want are tools that's are poly-utility, meaning that they brings them relevant information, simplified tools, along with relevant articles and education, about their various conditions and medications.
"Technology today, as we've seen, there's a lot of great apps and a lot of great platforms out there, and they just haven't quite met the needs of a patient that is managing multiple chronic illnesses or just one that's more life changing," said Buchanan.
"Redi has been set out to change that; we want to really help patients step into their health journey a little bit more, have more of a seat at the table to the health conversation, and that's just by enabling them with really simplified tools to manage their disease states and manage their overall educational events of health literacy."
Founded earlier this year, the Columbus, Ohio-based Redi builds tools specifically for patients with multiple chronic illnesses, and then combines them with more specialized support services, which might come from a variety of different stakeholders in the healthcare industry, such as specialty pharmacy, a pharma manufacturer, or an insurance company. Redi partners with these stakeholders so they direct their patients to download the app, which is free for the patient; patients can also download it on their own without a referral.
Once a patient downloads the app, they go through the signup process, which is only three steps and takes just one minute, requiring patients to answer questions about what medications that they're on, what conditions that they have, and then some demographic information. After that, the platform adapts to that patient, bringing them relevant articles and tools that relate to their specific disease states.
The app also aggregates other elements of their health, including exercise, diet tracking, medication tracking, and symptom tracking. That means the platform can serve back insights to the patient about their health from "a very holistic stance," said Buchanan.
"No longer is it an app for your exercise or an app for your medication tracking or an app for your diet; when you bring those together to a patient who's managing things really well already, the platform then uses technology to really get back to the patient ways that they could better manage their health or sources of support they may not be taking advantage of. So, it works alongside them working for themselves on the platform."
The idea is really to increase patient adherence, as that improves the outcomes for all stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem. For example, if the patient adheres more to the medication they were prescribed, they will have better outcomes, while the pharmaceutical manufacturer will make more money, and the insurance company will save money because they will have fewer downstream claims from complications. Meanwhile, the health care provider will get better reimbursement if they're part of the value based care system, and the pharmacies will make more money when patients actually fill their prescriptions. In the end, everyone benefits, but most of all the patient.
As the product is pretty new (the company was only founded six months ago), Redi doesn't yet have any data to share on how it actually improves adherence rates; in fact, that's partially what the new fundraising will be used for: to ensure that the company will be able to build up the infrastructure to be able to pull out those insights.
Primarily, though, the new money will be deployed to bring the product to market by connecting various partners into the platform; the company plans to create a commercialized strategy and commercialization team to go out and create those integrations with those various stakeholders. That means taking its team of seven employees and doubling or tripling that over the next year.
What Redi wants to really be, Buchanan explained, is a large company that is also patient-centric, meaning it has the infrastructure, the network, and the know-how to aggregate a lot of areas of the patient's health that they currently struggle to connect.
"Long term, I would love to see patients not only having the tools to manage their health day in and day out, but also having their pharmacy, their insurance company, their pharma manufacturer support, and connectivity with their health care provider, all in one spot," he said.
"That's what it means when we say 'health support integrated into daily life.' A couple of years down the road, I would love to see the vast majority of our patients having two or more stakeholders integrated into the platform that's helping the patient connect, manage their health, and get a lot of time back in their life."
(Image source: redi.health)
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