Neura Health, a virtual care platform for neurological disorders, raises $2.2M

Steven Loeb · February 2, 2022 · Short URL:

The company is starting out helping to treat migraines, with plans to expand to Parkinson's and MS

Despite there being more than 100 million Americans who suffer from a neurological disorder in the United States, including Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease, there are fewer than 17,000 neurologists who can treat them.

That creates a situation where there's a serious backlog: in 2016, the average wait time to see a specialist in Parkinson’s disease was longer than two months, and over three months in a third of centers.

In fact, in order to see all of the patients who need help, neurologists would each have to see 10x the volume of they are seeing, Elizabeth Burstein, CEO and co-founder of Neura Health, a telehealth solution for people with neurological disorders, told me. And that doesn't even address what happens when a patient finally, after all that time, gets in front of a doctor. 

"Beyond these core access issues, the traditional care experience itself is suboptimal. Once their appointments finally occur, patients are asked to summarize months (if not years) of symptoms in what is often a rushed, recency-biased description of self-reported outcomes," she said.

"Doctors dart their eyes between patient and computer screen as they attempt to document all that’s been going on: long histories, failed attempts to self-treat, and common comorbidities such as anxiety and depression. Given the complexity of these conditions, patients need more time with their doctors to align on personalized treatment plans."

Neuro Health, which announced a $2.2 million seed funding round on Wednesday, solves these problems with a virtual care platform, including a telehealth solution, remote patient monitoring, 24/7 care team access, and personalized care coaching, all forms of care that became significantly more common thanks to the pandemic over the last two years.

"Telehealth is effective because in neurology, many diagnoses are based on self-reported data, which can be shared just as effectively over telehealth as it is during a brick and mortar visit," Burstein told me.

"Beyond this, headache and migraine patients are particularly sensitive to bright lights, sounds and smells. Virtual visits help patients avoid the triggers that come up during transportation to the doctor and/or in waiting rooms."

Neura is initially focusing solely on headache and migraine, though it plans to expand into other neurological conditions such as movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s.

The service costs $28 a month; patients then get access to its app, which includes symptom tracking, which they can use to uncover relevant triggers and insights on which treatment methods are the most effective for them.

It also offers unlimited access to a dedicated care team, which includes a headache neurologist, along with coaches who meet with patients weekly to provide them with emotional support and to help them stay on their treatment plan. The team also includes concierges, who help patients with administrative tasks, including prior authorizations, scheduling of referrals, and insurance.

While Neura Health is, at this phase, a virtual-only solution, and does not provide any in-person care, it is able to write referrals to other doctors and specialists and to help patients find and schedule appointments at radiology centers, blood testing labs, and neurosurgical specialists. The company's care concierges help patients coordinate the logistics of these follow-up appointments, as well as with sharing the data from these appointment. 

The company chose to initially focus on headaches and migraines because not only do they affect 40 million Americans, but they can also be treated effectively over telehealth, said Burstein.

"Migraine is one of the most common diseases worldwide, and can be very severe and even disabling. In fact, the World Health Organization describes migraine disability as the most disabling disease affecting young people," she told me.

"Although migraine can be severe, in almost all situations it is treatable. There are excellent preventive treatments, and even lifestyle modifications can improve migraine frequency.  Certain supplements can prevent migraine, and there are medications to break up severe migraine attacks that are tailored to migraine on a molecular level."

While she couldn't share with me how many patients are currently using Neura Health, Burstein would say that app uptake has been growing over 50% month-over-month.

The seed funding came from Pear VC, Norwest Venture Partners, Global Founders Capital, Index Ventures, Nikhil Krishnan, and Next Play Ventures, and the company plans to use it to scale its team, including bringing on more neurologists, care coaches, care concierges, operational leaders, engineers, and designers.

In addition, Neura built its own neurology clinic in partnership with Dr. Tom Berk, headache specialist and Professor of Neurology at NYU Langone Health, in order to "fully revolutionize the care model in these condition areas." The company plans to use some of the new funding to also expand the clinic from its first three states, Florida, Ohio, and California, so that it can "become the nation’s first full-stack, tech-enabled neurology clinic."

That ties into the larger goal for Neura Health: beyond helping patients treat and manage their conditions, the company also wants to help find cures by learning from the experience of every neurology patient on its platform and leveraging that data.

"In the current healthcare system, data is largely siloed. Treatment data lives in electronic health records owned by hospitals and clinics, while symptoms data is fragmented across these records, paper diaries, and disjointed apps that don’t allow doctors to easily access data. There is no one system collecting symptoms data, treatment data, and outcomes data at scale," said Burstein.

"By centralizing this data in a full-stack virtual clinic, Neura is aggregating a massive anonymized data set on neurological conditions and outcomes. This allows researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and other industry stakeholders to better understand which medications are most effective with minimal side effects, and ultimately accelerate the search for cures."

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