Startup Biofourmis is expanding its artificial intelligence-based virtual care service to monitor complex chronic conditions.
The Boston-based company's new specialty virtual care program will initially focus on heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, lipid management and atrial fibrillation. With the new program, called Biofourmis Care, the company's platform now spans the entire care continuum with a hospital at home program for acute conditions, remote patient management for post-discharge care and now, virtual specialty care for longitudinal chronic disease management, according to the company.
"The original solutions at Biofourmis were launched in the care delivery space and focused on acute and post-acute care. This is an evolution of the platform to include chronic care or longitudinal disease management, which brings with it a couple of new capabilities and expands the platform from a technology solution to providing clinical care services," Maulik Majmudar, M.D., Biofourmis' chief medical officer, told Fierce Healthcare.
Biofourmis uses analytics, AI and wearables to remotely monitor patients. The specialty care programs are delivered remotely by Biofourmis’ trained health navigators, who are front-line care coordinators, as well as a team of licensed clinicians, including physicians, nurses and advanced practice providers.
These virtual care teams partner with the patient’s preexisting, on-the-ground primary and specialty care providers.
"We're an extension of their primary care team and we're here to augment what they're doing as a support team," said Majmudar, a cardiologist and digital health leader.
The service also includes AI-based medication management to augment and assist care teams in remotely adjusting medications and predictive analytics that detect patterns of clinical deterioration for earlier interventions, according to the company.
Specialty care accounts for 70% of all healthcare spending in the United States, and up to 40% of specialty care visits are deemed avoidable. In addition, one in four patients do not have easy and timely access to specialists.
Biofourmis designed its virtual specialty care service to help reduce total cost of care and improve quality of life and health outcomes, Majmudar said.
Biofourmis, which launched in 2015, initially focused on heart failure patients. "It was a natural evolution to expand that offering to high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation," Majmudar said. The company plans to focus beyond cardiometabolic conditions to other "high-risk, high-cost" conditions in oncology and pulmonary, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he said.
As part of the program, patients receive a wearable sensor that captures and communicates multiple physiologic signals into the Biofourmis Care software. Through a patient-facing app, patients can communicate with their dedicated clinical care team via text, talk or video call.
Patients are remotely monitored and supported by a front-line Biofourmis health navigator, who reviews and responds to notifications from the solution and serves as the first resource for patients’ clinical concerns or technical troubleshooting.
There is a growing list of digital health companies focused on chronic conditions, such as Livongo, now owned by Teladoc, Omada, Vida Health, Lark, Virta Health, Hello Heart and Onduo.
A key point of differentiation with Biofourmis' service is the use of sophisticated software algorithms for medication optimization, said Majmudar, who moved over to Biofourmis last year after spending three years at Amazon helping the retail giant build out its Amazon Halo wearable.
"The algorithm inputs parameters like vital signs, medical history, medication history, allergies and the patient's symptoms. The algorithm will actually output to the clinician or clinical care team a recommendation around a specific drug and a specific dose," he said. "The automation allows you to do that remotely and more frequently and more efficiently, which avoids the whole brick and mortar in-clinic visits, which take up a lot of time and create access to care issues."
He added, "The automation piece is critical because it drives efficiency and allows us to scale our model more efficiently than some other companies out there."
In September 2020, Biofourmis closed a $100 million funding round led by high-profile investor Softbank's Vision Fund 2. The company has raised $144 million to date.
Biofourmis is now eyeing partnerships with payers and value-based organizations such as accountable care organizations.
"I think we are extremely well aligned with payers to help improve the quality of care and reduce the cost of care.
The COVID-19 pandemic propelled virtual care into the mainstream and companies like Biofourmis are betting big on the continued shift to delivering more care remotely via technology. While many telehealth visits are episodic—basically virtual versions of in-person doctor visits—there is now an opportunity for the industry to rethink how to deliver care with the use of technology," Majmudar said.
"These virtual specialty care models and disease management models really allow you to manage a lot of these conditions, and not just simple ones, like high blood pressure or pre-diabetes, but actually complex things like arrhythmias and heart failure in a remote way," he said.