In North America, tens of millions of people suffer from chronic kidney disease. Having this disease puts a patient at risk for end-stage renal disease, which can lead to death. But chronic kidney disease is not easy to detect, and its progression is difficult to track. A Montreal-based startup, Collogh Care, has developed a comprehensive digital toolkit to help treat chronic CKD patients and improve their quality of life.
The problem the company is tackling is the difficulty of managing chronic kidney disease (CKD) in its advanced form.
“One in seven American adults – or 37 million people – has CKD,” says Collins Oghor, co-founder and CEO of Collogh Care Collogh Cares. The disease can lead to end-stage renal disease, which kills 90,000 Americans each year – more than breast and prostate cancer combined.” Yet, in 80% of cases, the acute form of the disease can be prevented by treating and closely monitoring the progression of its chronic form.
The problem is that CKD is not easy to detect.
In its early stages, it has no distinct symptoms, so most people who have the disease don’t know it.
However, once it reaches the 3rd of 5 stages, an advanced stage, it absolutely must be treated on an ongoing basis to avoid further degeneration.
Beyond human health, the economic stakes are enormous: kidney failure costs the United States US$500 billion per year.
The solution designed by Collogh Cares is a 3 component device:
First, a series of sensors, such as activity monitor bracelets, allow the patient to take relevant measurements, including blood pressure, at home each day. Second, a mobile application acts as a coach that accompanies the patient in his or her daily life.
“CKD is a lifestyle disease,” says Collins Oghor. So to treat it, we need to influence the patient’s lifestyle to help them improve their diet, exercise more, and manage stress.”
The mobile app analyzes the data and suggests behavioral changes to the patient that are appropriate for their condition. It reminds the patient of what to do during the day: medications to take, exercises to do, diet to follow. It also provides educational information about the disease and uses questionnaires to verify the patient’s understanding of and adherence to the treatment.
Finally, a web portal allows the doctors and nurses who follow the patient to verify that he or she is following the treatment plan, to monitor the evolution of his or her health indicators, and to be alerted if an indicator exceeds an acceptable level.
The business model is based on the cost savings to insurers from virtual patient support.
“In the U.S., it costs them an average of $150,000 a year to treat someone with end-stage renal disease who needs regular dialysis,” says Collins Oghor. That’s 10 times more than other people.” Collogh Cares will charge a monthly fee to insurers for each patient who takes advantage of its service package, and thus reduces the risk that their chronic illness will turn into an acute illness.
Currently, the company employs three full-time staff and a half-dozen part-time staff. After 2 years of work, Collogh Care is completing a first version of what is called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), i.e. functional enough to be tested in real-life conditions. The company has obtained pre-seed financing of US$200,000 to date.
As soon as the company completes its Minimum Viable Product, Collogh Cares will begin discussions with U.S. insurers to conduct pilot projects with them. To continue its development, the company expects to close a second round of pre-seed financing soon.
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