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The company assesses and identifies barriers to care that keep patients from getting treatment
Chronic conditions like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and dry eye are the leading causes of blindness, even though more than 90% of the time that outcome is preventable. The problem largely comes down to poor adherence to recommended care.
"Eye care, and healthcare generally, can be incredibly difficult to understand and navigate, particularly as patients age and their care becomes more complex. Because many of these potentially blinding diseases are asymptomatic, they take a backseat to other needs," said Landon Grace, CEO and co-founder at Lumata Health, an intelligent eye care management platform.
"Unfortunately, that often leads to irreversible vision loss that could have been prevented. Lumata exists to close that adherence gap. Or rather, we exist to prevent patients from falling through gaps in a healthcare landscape riddled with them. By doing so, we can help patients with chronic eye conditions maintain their sight and their quality of life."
Lumata combines a human-centered approach with data and technology; as most of the hurdles that patients have to overcome to manage their disease happen between their visits with the doctor, that’s where the company focuses its attention, assessing and identifying barriers to care that keep patients from obtaining or following the treatment that will save their vision.
On Thursday, the company announced a $4 million funding round led by Cortado Ventures, joined with participation by the Wolfpack Investor Network and 30 practicing ophthalmologists across the US. So far, Lumata has raised over $2 million in research and development funding through the National Eye Institute, and over $7 million in equity financing.
Founded in 2017, Lumata partners with ophthalmologists who treat and manage conditions like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, dry eye, and other chronic conditions.
Patients who the doctor identifies as needing additional help and resources are paired with one of the company's care coordinates, who will help them manage all aspects of their care; that often includes arranging transportation to important doctor’s appointments, making sure the patient obtains their prescriptions on time, ensuring that they’re using their medication properly, and helping them find lower-cost alternatives for their treatments.
Data shows that patients who are supported by Lumata’s platform increase their adherence, missing an average of 30% fewer clinic appointments. The ophthalmology clinics, meanwhile, see improvements in patient satisfaction, patient outcomes, and clinic efficiency. They also generate meaningful incremental revenue by offering the service to their patients.
"Hiring ancillary staff in healthcare is particularly challenging right now, so our ability to provide revenue-generating resources that ease that burden by offloading some of the most challenging aspects of care management to Lumata is extremely valuable to ophthalmology," Grace explained.
The company says it will use its new funding to advance its approach through new enhancements to its platform, including developing further predictive analytics that will allow care coordinators to help patients manage their eye condition and reduce their risk of blindness. For example, Lumata's data shows trends in engagement likelihood throughout the course of a day based on patient characteristics, allowing the company to achieve higher patient engagement, and therefore have a greater impact. It also has the ability to predict the likelihood that a patient will miss an upcoming appointment.
"Another important aspect is outcomes: we’re moving toward being able to predict not only an estimated clinical risk of progression, but also the coupled effect of clinical risk and non-adherence risk, both of which contribute to the real-world risk of someone losing their vision. That allows us to prioritize our resources where they’re needed most and drive the largest impact at the population level," said Grace.
In addition, the funding will also go toward incorporating automated patient communication pathways, which means knowing when a patient needs help, and making it easier for the patient to connect with their care coordinator. That's why the company is exploring asynchronous communication through app-based or SMS-based engagement.
Early data has demonstrated strong support for the concept, Grace explained; in many cases, an automated text message with a patient asking about their glaucoma drops has surfaced a problem with obtaining refills that may not have otherwise been identified for several weeks.
"A significant focus over the coming months is integrating these communication pathways into our existing care management platform, further empowering our care coordinators to engage the right patient at the right time, with the right intervention or information," he said.
All of this is in service of Lumata's ultimate goal: to reduce the risk of blindness for people with chronic eye conditions by fifty percent or more, and we are well on our way.
"We firmly believe that this kind of intelligent patient engagement has the potential to change the way chronic eye conditions are managed between visits to the ophthalmologists, a concept we feel is validated by the participation of 30 key opinion leaders in ophthalmology in the Series A financing and by the support of the National Eye Institute."
(Image source: lumatahealth.com)
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