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It brings care to the home through connected devices, virtual patient engagement, coaches, and AI
It's hard to downplay the toll that heart disease is taking on our society: in the U.S., it's the leading cause of death for both men and women, as well as most racial and ethnic groups. It's so bad, in fact, that one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease in this country.
And, yet, the space is still somehow under-appreciated by digital health according to Tom Stanis, CEO of Story Health, a company that uses virtual care and AI technology to bring high acuity cardiac care into the patient's home. On Thursday the company announced a $22.6 million series A funding round co-led by Northpond Ventures and B Capital Group.
"Cardiology has some of the best science done outlying the potential therapies and their under use in real world practice. The missing piece has been an end-to-end platform for cardiologists who are in short supply and dealing with massive talent shortages," he said.
Story Health's solution is to bridge the gap that currently exists between patients and providers, through the use of connected home devices, virtual patient engagement, health coaches, and AI-powered clinical decision support.
"Cardiologists don't have the ability to orchestrate care outside the clinic, which is the gap that Story Health fills. We integrate directly into their workflow through the EHR, take logistical load off of highly skilled clinicians, and engage patients beyond the visit to ensure that treatment is timely, safe, and effective."
Story Health works with health systems so that clinicians can introduce Story Health to their patients, either during a visit or virtually between visits. The clinician explains how it works, and the fact that it allows them to optimize their care between clinic visits, after which the patient goes home with a welcome kit including medication organization tools, remote monitoring devices, and a connection to their care team via SMS on their phone.
The company's health coaching team schedules an initial phone call with the patient to walk them through the process and then the patient starts their care plan. They're guided through escalating therapies, taking readings at home, and getting lab work done.
If the patient experiences challenges with symptoms or some other social barrier gets in the way, Story Health's system will help with clinical escalations and/or logistical solutions.
"We build a combination of software and services that work together to enable specialists to orchestrate better care. This begins in the EHR with our proprietary clinical decision support that finds opportunities across the specialist panel to optimize care," Stanis explained.
"Next, we help the cardiologist build a virtual care plan for how the patient will receive care including medication optimization, labs and vital monitoring, and logistical support. Finally, we engage the patient both through easy to use technology that incorporates senior-centric design and human health coaches that expand the trust that patients feel such that they feel like their health system is watching out for them."
The company also incorporates artificial intelligence in its solution in order to sort through EHR data and pull out the relevant fields that are necessary to decide who needs optimization, as well as to save time for the clinician by providing them with intelligent suggestions.
"In addition, when the patient is on a treatment plan at home, there are lots of things that require modification. Side-effects, symptoms, and progressive disease are things that our AI notices and alerts clinicians for intervention," said Stanis.
While there are a number of other virtual cardiology platforms out there right now, including Heartbeat Health, AliveCor, and Hello Heart, to name a few, Story's differeniation is in its focus: while those other companies handle low acuity conditions, such as hypertension and dyslipidemia, Story takes care high acuity conditions, including heart failure.
"We focus on optimizing medications and labs, which most digital health companies shy away from. In addition, we integrate directly into the clinician workflow in the EHR, a difficult task that involves lots of intelligence with clinical data."
Launched in 2020 by Stanis, who previously co-founded Google’s Verily, along with fellow Verily alumni Nikhil Roy, and cardiologist Ashul Govil MD MBA, Story Health's first public customer is Christiana Care, the largest health system in Delaware; so far, it has been able to show improved time to optimal treatment for patients, as well as hospitalization prevention. The company has also found that specialists that use Story Health are able to optimize their appointment schedule, which allows them to see more patients.
The new round of funding, which also included participation from new investor LRVHealth, as well as existing investors Define Ventures and General Catalyst, brings the company’s total funding to approximately $27 million. Story Health plans to use it to expand its 20-person team, and to grow out its platform.
"Our initial products focus on specific high value areas of Cardiology, and we will be expanding the product offering to cover the entire cardiology panel of conditions. In addition, we see similar problems in other specialties where we can help optimize therapy at home. Finally, we are developing deeper offerings to bring even more services to the home for more timely and cost effective treatment," Stanis told me.
Ultimately, he imagines a world in which specialists are able to design the best possible care for their patients, bring it to them at exactly the right moment, personalized to each patient's needs, and expand their impact across larger populations.
"This is our vision for Story Health. We are a mission driven company driving toward a novel model of care."
(Image source: storyhealth.com)
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