It’s estimated that gastrointestinal disease expenditure in the U.S. totals $136 billion annually, exceeding the nation’s yearly spending on heart disease ($113 billion), trauma ($103 billion), and mental health ($99 billion). Gut ailments affect an estimated 60 million to 70 million Americans each year, resulting in over 4 million hospitalizations, 72 million ambulatory care visits, and 236,000 deaths.
This is why Dr. André Sommer and Jesaja Brinkmann in 2016 founded Cara Care, a Berlin-based subsidiary of HiDoc Technologies that develops digital treatment strategies for patients suffering from chronic digestive conditions. Today, the startup announced that it has secured $7 million in a series A funding round led by JJDC (Johnson & Johnson Innovation) and Asabys Partners, with participation from existing investor Atlantic Labs, bringing Cara Care’s total raised to about $9 million. The startup says it will use the new funds to conduct additional research, expand and create new partnerships with diagnostic labs and food manufacturing companies, and grow its mobile app’s footprint — with a primary focus on the U.S.
“Abasys Partners’ investment reflects the impact of a technological convergence in health care that is delivering therapies beyond traditional prescription medications, where smart apps work in concert with the pharmaceutical industry to provide clinically meaningful benefit to patients in their everyday lives, ” said Asabys managing partner and cofounder Josep LI. Sanfeliu in a statement. “Cara Care’s advanced digital technologies, which include big data, AI, and UX, are all embedded in the patient-centric Cara Care mobile app, helping patients improve their lives with more efficient, personalized, and clinically validated treatments. ”
A Microsoft Accelerator Berlin graduate, Cara Care offers a mobile app that recommends medical, dietary, and mental health strategies targeting disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), food intolerances, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It’s available in German and English and encourages users to add personal notes to a shareable diary about daily symptoms and to record food, mood, stress, workouts, sleep, and other factors that might exacerbate discomfort.
Cara Care launched a remote medical nutrition therapy program in Germany through which certified nutritionists — many of whom are covered by patients’ insurance policies — advise users in a series of telemedical sessions. Thanks in part to that offering, the company claims it has already helped more than 400,000 people in Germany and the U.S. manage digestive disease symptoms with a 78.8% treatment success rate.
“It is clear that digital therapeutics will play a crucial future role in the treatment of individuals with chronic gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS,” said Dr. Anthony J. Lembo, a Harvard Medical School professor and director of the GI Motility Laboratory at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “I believe that these digital treatments will help improve patient compliance to medication and lifestyle changes, delivering better outcomes across this patient population.”