Mayo Clinic, K Health team up to use AI for personalized hypertension treatment

Digital health "unicorn" K Health teamed up with the Mayo Clinic to develop an artificial intelligence diagnosis model built to help doctors quickly identify better hypertension treatments for their patients.

Hypertension is one of the most common conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), yet current treatment options often involve the testing of various medications and lifestyle changes until patients see positive results. 

Finding the right treatment for patients involves a lot of trial and error, and it can take months to lower a patient's blood pressure to within the normal range, Ran Shaul, co-founder and chief product officer at K Health, told Fierce Healthcare.

To help solve this problem, K Health developed a personalized hypertension treatment algorithm that uses de-identified data from the Mayo Clinic to help reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment. The data points include demographics, medical history, lab results, medications prescribed and outcomes.

The company worked with the Mayo Clinic’s digital healthcare initiative, Mayo Clinic Platform. The two organizations began working on the project in November 2020.

The model will be available to K Health’s network of clinicians and its more than 6 million users. Primary care clinicians practicing on K Health’s virtual platform are now able to use a predictive model based on real-time insights from Mayo Clinic Platform_Discover, one of the platform’s de-identified patient data sets, to treat hypertension more accurately and efficiently, according to Shaul.

The algorithm gives clinicians "superpowers" by providing more data-driven insights, he said. "Clinicians will see all the therapeutic options and the combination of medications, all possible options and they will also be able to see the outcomes," he said.

He added, "We have created a way to way to take an algorithm and put it in the hands of the practitioner at scale."

The initiative builds on a collaboration with Mayo Clinic announced back in 2020. The two organizations said two years ago they planned to focus on improving and accelerating the deployment of virtual care models to improve patient-centric care by leveraging the Mayo Clinic Platform, the hospital's digital health and AI projects.

Launched in 2018, K Health developed a chat function that uses AI to suggest potential diagnoses for consumers who enter symptoms and also takes into account the user's medical history, age and gender. The company provides patients remote access to healthcare services through their smartphones.

Currently, K Health has over 100 board-certified internists practicing on its platform. Last year, the company teamed up with Anthem and Blackstone Growth to launch a joint venture enterprise solution, Hydrogen Health, which makes K Health available via employers and insurers. 

Shaul said K Health and Mayo Clinic will start by focusing on hypertension, but there are plans to leverage the partnership and the ability to develop personalized algorithms to target other conditions such as diabetes, asthma and more complex conditions.

“Powered by the knowledge and analytical tools provided by Mayo Clinic Platform_Discover, K Health is deriving key insights and demonstrating the power of technology to improve and accelerate better, more personalized care for as many people as possible,” said Steven Bethke, vice president, product portfolio, Mayo Clinic Platform, in a statement. “Starting with hypertension, K Health’s clinical and data science teams will unlock innovation using Mayo Clinic Platform_Discover to create a novel way to reduce the time between the diagnosis and treatment.”

By tapping into the Mayo Clinic Platform's de-identified data sets to develop algorithms, the partnership is able to accelerate innovation and allows doctors all over the U.S. to access knowledge from Mayo Clinic clinicians, Shaul said.

"The aim is to enable any person to benefit from the quality of care of Mayo Clinic. The know-how and expertise can be democratized," he said.

“With less trial and error when it comes to hypertension treatment, we have the potential to not only improve quality of life and outcomes but also decrease medical costs for thousands of people,” said Edo Paz, M.D., cardiologist and vice president of medical at K Health, in a statement. 

In January 2021, the New York-based startup banked a $132 million series E funding round led by GGV Capital and Valor Equity Partners with participation from Kaiser Permanente pension fund and LTS Investments, the investment offices of Lemann, Telles, and Sicupira, behind 3G Capital. Additional investors include 14W, Max Ventures, Pico Partners, Marcy Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners and BoxGroup.

The new funding round values the company at $1.5 billion, according to TechCrunch. K Health has raised $271 million to date.