In June 2013, Ade Adesanya, an electrical engineer, and his partner, Harsh Vathsangam, a computer scientist, were in the research phase of a revolutionary digital healthcare solution; an innovation that would greatly improve the standard of treatment for patients who have suffered a heart failure, heart attack, or have recently undergone angioplasty, a digital home based cardiac rehabilitation program.
Vathsangam, a graduating Ph.D. student of the University of Southern California (USC) had developed a technology that could track physical activities with the use of smartphones, and Adesanya, at the time, was an intern whose job was to help Vathsangam build a business around his technology. But the problem was that Vathsangam’s tech was quite common, already in use by big smartphone and sports brands. How does one create a business around a technology that was already on the market?
The two set out to find a healthcare application for the technology, to see if there was any room for innovation around a technology that tracked exercise. They visited hospitals and talked to doctors, “The question I kept asking them was, in what case would someone die if they don’t exercise? Because I thought we had to find that very critical risk case for the technology to matter; you need to have a technology that is very critical to your customers’ success. Then that’s something they can pay for. So I tried to find that one area where promoting exercise is critical for one’s life, in general,” Adesanya told Ventures Africa.
Months later, at an event promoting tech amongst African Americans, Adesanya learned from someone who worked at the American Heart Association that his technology was better suited for cardiac rehab. When Adesanya set out to learn more about cardiac rehab, he discovered that only 20 percent of patients were participating in cardiac rehabilitation in spite of the fact that research showed patients who participate cut their risk of getting a heart attack by more than 50 percent, live longer, and generally have a better life. “I was like, why is that case?” Adesanya asked.
The feedback they got was that there are very few rehabs around the country and most of them were far from people’s homes. For patients to participate in a cardiac rehab program, they’d have to visit the clinic three times a week and attend classes from 9am to 5pm. This was disadvantageous for people whose homes were miles away from the clinic. And to cap it off, most cardiac rehab programs were quite expensive.
“Of the 100 interviews we did, we got the same feedback from everybody. I thought, there needs to be a way to simplify this, a way to do cardiac rehab at home. I did a lot of research and found that Stanford University already had a research team that had developed a home-based cardiac rehab program. They created this program some 20 years ago and had done a lot of clinical trials to prove that it was effective,” Adesanya explained.
The duo got in contact with the team at Stanford and sold them the idea of digitising their already developed home-based rehab program. Then they negotiated an exclusive global license to the program and set out to work hiring a team of three into their startup – Moving Analytics, a cardiologist, a nurse, and a clinical support person. For the first two years, the company was funded by money won off business competitions. “USC had different programs for entrepreneurship and we applied to a bunch of them. Every week we would go and pitch our idea and win ten thousand, fifteen thousand, and that is how we funded the company for the first two years.”
In 2014, Vathsangam and Adesanya started applying to different accelerator programs. And by the end of 2014, got into one in New York City called Blueprint Health. At Blueprint, the duo built and learned how to sell their product. They also got the chance to interact with successful entrepreneurs who served as mentors, and most importantly, closed their first four deals under contract, hospitals that wanted to use their digital home based cardiac rehab program.
“Our first customers were NYU Langone Medical Center, the Mayo clinic, Trinity health system in New Jersey, and USC hospital. These were the first four hospitals. We had a six-month implementation plan for each of them, and that bought us ample time to create the products. So we did that and that was how the product got launched,” Adesanya stated.
For the most part of 2015, Vathsangam and Adesanya sought investors in a bid to raise venture capital. Having talked to about 300 investors, and getting a lot of “not interested”, they eventually in March this year, found a group of investors in Silicon Valley that put in about $400,000. This group of investors also helped convince other investors to come aboard Moving Analytics, so that by the end of May 2016, they had raised a total of about 1.5 million dollars. “We took that money and hired a bigger team. Now we are in 10 hospitals, and currently negotiating with 40 others,” enthused Adesanya.
How the program works
Moving Analytics basically works with hospitals to create and implement home-based cardio care management programs. The goal of the program is to improve utilisation by making cardiac rehab more convenient and affordable by delivering home based rehab programs to patients through their smartphones.
Post-discharge patients who have suffered a heart attack or undergone cardiac surgery gets customised treatment plan downloaded as an app on their smartphones. At home, the app guides them through supervised exercises, breaking down the plan into daily rehab tasks and acting as a portal for patients to keep track of their progress and get educational coaching. Once a week, patient receive a phone-based counselling session from their nurse where they identify and address challenges, and revise goals for the following week.
Apart from convenience and affordability, the service delivered by Moving Analytics helps healthcare providers generate additional revenue and reduce readmissions.
“Our mantra as a company is empathy guiding expertise. At Moving Analytics, we have the most brilliant people in health IT/digital health. And we have an experienced clinical team from Stanford University,” Adesanya raved. “Our philosophy is always, what is the customer’s problem and how do we use our technology and expertise to solve it.” Over time, the company hopes to include other diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and stroke on its platform.
As a thriving startup, Moving Analytics is based in the United States for now but plans are underway for expansion into other countries and continents. Adesanya who is Nigerian says he’s been in contact with friends who are healthcare IT consultants in Nigeria and have also been in talks with different hospitals in Nigeria to find a way to launch his company services here. Interestingly, cardiovascular diseases are a top health challenge in sub-Saharan Africa and are the number one cause of death in adults over the age of 30. Hence there is a huge market potential for this innovation in Africa.
“In the United States, people who have suffered a heart failure or heart attack have a chance to improve their cardiovascular health as there are a few rehab programs that patients can participate in. But it’s not the same in other parts of the world where most people die a few years after suffering a heart attack because are no recovery programs. So as a company, our ambition is definitely global but the US is a great starting point as there is an already established market here.”
Watch Co-founder, Ade Adesanya talk about this revolutionary digital healthcare solution below: