Heart disease is relentless. The American Heart Association reports that 116.4 million U.S. adults (46%) alone have hypertension, and it’s estimated that about 800,000 people die of cardiovascular disease complications each year. That makes it the leading cause of death for both men and women — not to mention one of most expensive to treat: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts the cost north of $320 billion.
Redwood City, California-based Hello Heart hopes to turn things around with a digital wellness program targeted at employees. To ramp up its efforts, the company recently raised $12 million in a funding round led by Khosla Ventures, which saw participation from BlueRun Ventures, Maven Ventures, and Resolute Ventures. The capital infusion follows on the heels of a $9 million raise in March 2017, and CEO Maayan Cohen says it’ll enable Hello Heart to scale its sales team in the employers and health plan segments.
“Our mission is to empower patients to understand and improve their health, and we’re very proud to be able to help them do it so effectively in heart health,” said Cohen, who cofounded Hello Heart in 2013 with Eran Keisar and Ziv Meltzer. “We’re in an exciting growth phase.”
Hello Heart’s HIPAA-compliant program tracks risk factors like blood pressure, activity, and weight with an FDA-approved, Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitor and companion smartphone app. (In addition to heart disease, the company markets its platform to those suffering from hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and stress management issues.) It automatically imports lab results from clinics and provides personalized explanations of conditions. And on the preventative side, the app offers activity and sugar-level tracking and digital coaching for drug adherence and stress management.
Hello Heart claims it’s the only startup with a smartphone solution that’s been validated by a peer-reviewed study on hypertension, and it says that its patients typically see a 70% reduction in blood pressure within the first six months. In the aforementioned clinical study, which was performed by researchers from UCLA and Harvard Medical School, 70% of users reduced their blood pressure and decreased their own systolic blood pressure by 22mmHg.
Paper coauthor and Harvard Medical School faculty researcher Dr. Eyal Zimlichman attributes the result to Hello Heart’s 45% enrollment rate. “Delivering clinical outcomes at the scale of population health requires strong patient engagement across a variety of patient types,” he said.
Hello Heart says it has ongoing programs with clients ranging from small, self-insured 600-employee businesses to large Fortune 500 companies. Moreover, it says that most of those clients have seen a four times return on investment, which is perhaps the reason it’s been recognized by the National Business Group On Health innovation board and the Employer Health Innovation Roundtable (EHIR).
“Every consumer should be the CEO of their own health. Hello Heart is one of the only digital health solutions in hypertension that we have seen that has the potential to move the needle on population health and in delivering long term clinical impact,” said Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla. “We are very excited to be a part of their journey.”