Q3 2022, Message From The CEO
“The reality is, if we want to provide high quality care to all people – because all people deserve high quality care – then we have to bring care to people; we cannot expect people to come to healthcare, to facilities, and to the system. That means we have to move care into the home. That’s absolutely essential if we are going to get to under-represented and under-resourced populations. It is also our way of trying to reduce healthcare costs, instead of everything coming out of the healthcare facilities”.
Those were the words of Dr. Jeff Shuren – Director of the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices & Radiological Health (CDRH) – at last week’s AdvaMed MedTech Conference (October 24-26) in Boston, USA, which I attended as part of Investissement Quebec’s delegation. In addition to Dr. Shuren’s illuminating comments, there were equally cogent remarks highlighting the increasingly vital role of digital health in health systems planning and the heavy emphasis finally being placed on addressing health disparities and inequitable access to clinical trials. Such comments were made by the Commissioner of the FDA (Dr. Robert Califf), the CEO of Medtronic (Geoffrey Martha) and Director of the Technology, Coding & Pricing Group of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Jason Bennett), amongst others.
This is why we remain upbeat about our mission to utilize digital health technologies in the management of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in marginalized patient populations, in spite of the worsening macro-economic environment, and amid reports of significant declines in digital health funding (CB Insights reported a 36% QoQ drop in Q3 2022). As one of our advisors recently quipped, all we can do is focus on ourselves, our users, and our mission.
With that in mind, I report that we had a mixed Q3, but we are gearing up for a positive Q4.
The good news first. We continued to gain traction and recognition for our work in Q3. In September, we graduated from Next AI Montreal and were selected as the recipient of the Ministère de l’Economie et de l’Innovation du Quebec $2,500 award for economic and social impact (out of 26 AI-based companies).
A major commercialization breakthrough was achieved in October, in the form of a Letter of Intent from a group of prominent US-based Nephrologists and kidney disease researchers who are interested in using our digital health ecosystem for a 4-year randomized controlled trial (RCT). The proposed study will examine the impact of exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on fatigue symptoms (and dialysis onset) in patients with advanced CKD. The 500-1000 participant study will begin in September 2023 and will be performed across 5 states in the USA. I will be meeting with the researchers in Orlando, Florida later this week (while attending the annual meeting of American Society of Nephrologists – aka Kidney Week) to further discuss details of the project and build framework of the contract. This is a significant milestone on our commercialization journey.
On the product development front, we are in the final stretch. Our software development team is currently working out bugs in the mobile app (digital health coach), and anticipates a final release within days. We are finalizing design features for a revamped user interface for the care management platform and working on an additional feature and building the clinical decision support content. Overall, we are satisfied with the pace of product development. As you may recall, this “technical risk” was one of our major concerns earlier in the year. We are pleased to have (initially) cleared a significant part of this hurdle. You can enjoy a demo of the digital health ecosystem here. If you would like access to test the mobile app (upon final release), please fill out this form.
The not-so-good news is we are yet to close our pre-seed fundraising round as we had planned to do by Q3. We had a setback with the lead investor we had lined up and the timeline for their potential investment has been pushed back to Q1 2023 at the earliest. Till date, we have closed a quarter million US dollars in investments from angel investors – 25% of $1M pre-seed target. However, we remain in good shape for the investment matching program discussed in the previous report, and are continuing to be in close discussion with potential lead investors. Fortunately, we have been able to significantly reduce our burn rate for Q4 2022 and potentially, Q1 2023, since we have almost finished our minimal viable product development.
In Q4, I am putting my attention on business development and seeking (and closing) strategic investors. In attention to last week’s attendance at AdvaMed MedTech conference, I will be in Orlando later this week for Kidney Week as aforementioned, Las Vegas a week later for the HLTH Digital Conference (as part of the delegation of Concordia University’s District 3 Lab “Launch & Grow” cohort), and Minneapolis in December (as part of Investissement Quebec X Medical Alley’s USA Market Access Program). We are also expecting to finalize a major addition to the executive team, which will unlock more funding and partnership opportunities in the near term.
Our ask for you in Q4 is to make introductions to folks in your network who have strong interest in investing in digital health companies, particularly those passionate about addressing healthcare disparities.
As always, thank you so much for your unflinching support!