Kaia Health is on a mission to make access to virtual physical therapy for conditions such as musculoskeletal (bones and cartilage), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and osteoarthritis easier.
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Based in New York, the digital therapeutics company’s platform provides real-time exercise feedback via a smartphone app. Its new care models, Kaia Gateway and Premium Partners, combine personalized health coaching and collaboration with medical providers.
The company raised $75 million in Series C funding, led by an unnamed growth equity fund, to give it a total raise of $125 million, according to founder, president and CEO Konstantin Mehl. That includes a $26 million Series B announced in last June, led by 3VC, Idinvest Partners and Optum Ventures.
James Wise, partner at Balderton Capital, has been involved with the company since its Series A in 2019 and said that it looked at more than 300 companies using digital therapeutics, and Kaia Health was one of a handful the firm ended up investing in.
Not only did Wise like the fact that Mehl was a repeat founder, but that people kept saying he needed to meet him. Wise also said he was impressed with the early clinical evidence that showed Kaia Health’s treatment was effective at pain relief.
“MSK is the biggest health cost in the world in terms of global spend, and the number of people affected,” Wise said in an interview. “Kaia Health is not trying to replace all therapists, but to be a part of the treatment and replicate what can be replaced with computer vision. It is saving more money for general practitioners and is convenient, especially as back issues have gone up due to people working at home and not having proper chairs.”
Following the Series B in 2020, Kaia Health was working with health plans and employers in the U.S. Prior to the global pandemic, 20 percent of the company was focused on technology, Mehl said. When it hit and chronic disease treatments were considered elective and not allowed for a while, demand for Kaia Health’s platform exploded, causing the company to add staff and shift 90 percent of the company to technology.
“We ended up being really heavily product focused, but we also hired more on the business side,” Mehl added. “In the first quarter of this year, we have already onboarded 30 people to support the interest.”
The company also launched its COPD treatment during the first days of the lockdown in New York. After some weeks, Mehl said he learned that many of the COVID patients with the highest mortality rates also had COPD and began treating many patients at home as they were not able to go into rehabilitation centers due to them being closed.
The pandemic also accelerated demand for Kaia Health’s MSK resource, which saw 600 percent growth over the past year. Today, some 60 million patients access the MSK platform, he said. One in two American adults are affected by an MSK condition, which results in $120 billion annual costs to employers.
It was a combination of demand for services, the need to integrate with medical providers, and building out the infrastructure that led to Kaia Health closing on the Series C, Mehl said.
He intends to invest the new capital into building out a commercial team as well as the company’s care model to be able to triage patients. Mehl also wants to work on technology development to enable the software to have better motion detecting and computer vision so people aren’t having to be asked how they feel every day, using a biomarker test instead.
“Building out the integration is key, so we will probably double in size our headcount in the next 12 to 15 months,” Mehl added. “We are also looking at other use cases, but those are further down the line while we focus on being active in Europe and the U.S.”
Feature photo courtesy of Kaia Health
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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