Investing & Startups| January 26, 2019
Kaia Health Raises $10m Series A Funding To Scale Up Back Pain Therapy App
Germany-based digital health startup, Kaia Health, has raised $10 million in a Series A financing round, with the funding to be used to scale up operations, including the roll out of its app, and financing a move to New York.
Balderton Capital led the financing round. In total, Kaia has raised $14 million following a $4 million seed funding round in 2016.
Kaia Health said the money will be used to rollout its pipeline which includes treatments to “tackle some of the world’s most urgent health challenges, including a range of chronic conditions.” The company further said it has created scientifically-validated digital treatments for a range of disorders including back pain and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Kaia Health, which was founded in 2016, entered the U.S. market in September 2016 following successful pilots in Germany and the UK. The company says its app is now being used by more than a quarter million people and organizations in the U.S. and Europe.
Mind body therapy for MSK disorders
The app uses artificial intelligence (AI) and motion-tracking technology to help manage pain. In explaining how Kaia Health works, the Scientific Computing World website said the startup “develops innovative machine learning and computer vision technology and works with medical experts to create a home-based, affordable and clinically-validated alternative to painkillers, delivered through a smartphone. The app offers users a daily plan which features physical exercises, relaxation techniques and medical educational content.”
Here’s a short video showing how the app works.
Kaia’s app can come with tailor-made exercises using an algorithm which adapts the exercise program to the individual’s input. “Patent-pending motion tracking technology monitors and provides real-time audio feedback on patients’ exercise performance. Uniquely, Kaia’s app informs users in natural language if they’re performing exercises correctly, and how to improve them – without requiring any extra hardware,” the website further explained.
The startup says this is a cheaper way of managing pain compared to drugs or visiting the physician and, in the long term, is more sustainable. Kaia Health’s vision is to develop “mind body therapy” for musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders. The therapy is made up of guided physical exercises and psychological techniques.
Kaia Health Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Konstantin Mehl said that, over the last year, the startup had demonstrated “a universal, unmet need for affordable and accessible digital therapy products, such as our world’s first computer vision-powered back pain app. These improve treatment paths for patients and reduce costs for payers in healthcare around the globe. Balderton’s investment will support the next stage of our journey, as we expand across the US, undertake further clinical studies and cement our position as a global leader in the digital healthcare market.”
Cheaper alternative to drugs and physician visits
Mehl, who previously suffered from chronic back pain, believes most treatments for the condition are too expensive and ineffective and hopes that his company’s approach can provide some reprieve.
James Wise, a partner at Balderton Capital, said at the uppermost of their minds was a way of providing high-quality and affordable health care for everyone. He said he believed Kaia Health was helping provide high quality and affordable health care “through its revolutionary technology, which we believe could offer millions of chronic-pain sufferers best-in-class clinical solutions from the comfort of their own homes. We look forward to being able to support Kaia on their mission to put treatment and pain management into the hands of patients and improve lives.”
According to the VentureBeat website, Kaia has already illustrated that its approach and digital solutions can work, with a clinical study conducted at the Technical University of Munich’s Center for Pain Therapy in Germany, showing that the company’s app-based approach reduced lower back pain by 40 percent.
Kaia Health’s approach has already received the thumbs up from Mani Rafii, a board member of BARMER, Germany’s largest health insurance company, who said: “We have to deal with a problem such as back pain with easily accessible and effective care. The bespoke training with Kaia is straightforward and applicable. Relaxation units and information modules can be used at home or on the go, making the holistic therapy ideal for everyday use.”
It is estimated that, in the U.S., up to 100 million people a year are affected by chronic back pain. This is the leading reason for the prescription of painkillers. It is further estimated that in the UK 30 percent of all physician appointments are MSK related, costing that country’s National Health Service at least $6.5 billion a year.
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