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Scouting Report-Kaia Health: Bringing Physical Therapy to the Where The Patients Are

The Driver:

Recently, Kala Health raised $75M in Series C funding with plans to use the funding towards a partnership with Luna On-Demand Physical Therapy. They also plan to make their solution available to more patients through employers and health plans in the US and expand into national reimbursement systems in Europe. Investors in the round include Optum Ventures, Idinvest, 3VC, Balderton Capital, Heartcore Capital, Symphony Ventures, and A Round Capital. Kaia Health, a digital therapeutics company for musculoskeletal (MSK) care, is collaborating with Luna to offer Kaia Health members in-person physical therapy in addition to virtual therapy sessions. Kaia’s digital health platform uses computer vision technology to help members track exercise through their smartphone. Kala members have the option of scheduling physical therapy appointments or video visits with physical therapists.

Key Takeaways:

  • Kaia's app was featured in a randomized control trail published in Nature, entitled "App-based multidisciplinary back pain treatment versus combined physiotherapy plus online education: a randomized controlled trial"

  • One in five American adults experiences chronic pain, costing nearly $300 billion annually in lost productivity.

  • According to the World Health Organization, about1.71 billion people have musculoskeletal conditions worldwide.

  • Kaia Health is the largest musculoskeletal (MSK) care platform worldwide with over 500K users across the globe.

The Story:

Konstatin Mehl and Manuel Thurner, established Kaia Health in response to their personal struggles with chronic pain conditions. This inspired the desire to develop an innovative solution that would eliminate the obstacles that prevent patients from getting effective and cost-efficient treatment in a timely manner. On many occasions, people who suffer from chronic pain resort to prescription drugs and only get referred for high-quality treatment when it is too late. Late treatments eventually lead to higher costs and avoidable invasive treatments like orthopedic surgery (for MSK) or lung transplantations for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). The co-founder’s vision for Kaia Health is to enable patients to achieve cost-effective and sustainable treatment interventions promptly.

Kaia Health’s app offers evidence-based pain management exercises that include daily movement exercises, relaxation exercises, and knowledge modules that patients can use at their convenience. Kaia also has a personalized daily training program that uses AI technology and a front-facing camera of the smartphone to aid the user in properly executing the modeled exercise routine. The technology has an audio feedback feature that tells users whether they are doing the exercises correctly and how adjustments they can make. “Kaia Health uses Motion Coach technology that delivers results without having to rely on cumbersome sensors or expensive hardware. Motion coach features real-time, automated exercise feedback and objective function assessment. It uses a strong basis of clinical evidence including one of the largest randomized control trials of its kind, great traction in multiple markets, and a team of motivated and dedicated followers which the company refers to as “Kaianeers.” Currently, Kaia’s Motion Coach technology uses computer vision technology to help patients track their exercises through a smartphone, works with most iOS and Android devices, even without an internet connection, but can only track 2D motion. Kaia is working towards developing a 3D musculoskeletal model. Furthermore, the app’s algorithm uses the patient's input and feedback in creating personalized training plans that match the user's condition and physical aptitude. Users have the option of adjusting the challenge level, the length and the number of rounds of the exercises.

Funding for Kaia Health’s services is available through most employer-based health plans. Its partnership with Luna has expanded its patient offerings to include in-person physical therapy by licensed therapists. Patients are not required to have prescriptions before they can begin accessing therapy services. After scheduling and getting matched with a therapist the patients work with the same therapist for every session. In between sessions, the patient’s therapist can prescribe exercises or treatment regimens and answer any questions through the Luna app. Luna accepts most forms of health insurance, including Medicare however, they also offer a self-pay option that costs $125 per visit.

The Differentiators:

Kaia Health is one of the few self-service digital therapeutics companies that have a clinically validated MSK digital pain therapy. In addition to offering online services, Kaia through its partnership with Luna will now offer its users an in-person service option or both. According to both companies, this will allow patients to see the same therapist at each appointment, which the companies believe will improve continuity of care between Kaia’s digital offerings and in-person care.

Furthermore, unlike its competitors, Kaia’s computer vision technology is a software-only approach and doesn’t require any additional sensors or hardware for patients to be able to use the system. Kaia Health also offers round-the-clock therapy on the app with an option for Luna’s licensed therapists to provide at-home care outside traditional business hours (from 6:30 AM-9:30 PM). Consequently, patients don't have to wait for availability or long hours in doctors’ offices.

The Big Picture:

Kaia Health and Luna’s collaboration increases access to care by making both online and in-person therapeutic care available to patients thereby increasing its appeal to a broader potential user base. For example, by providing users with both remote and in-person options it helps accommodate the needs of the elderly or disabled who may have gone through orthopedic trauma and may not be able to access in-person care as often as they would like or need to for optimal recovery. Digital physical therapy, either by itself or in combination with in-person physical therapy could also reduce the cost of care through early pain detection and eliminate the need for expensive medications and invasive procedures due to conditions that have deteriorated or gone untreated.

By having therapists come to the patient Kaia facilitates a wide range of treatment options (in office, virtual and in-home) and makes receiving physical therapy easy and accessible as well as aiding in transitions of care. For example, prior to the collaboration, when a patient received virtual therapy and needed extra care requiring in-person therapy the patient would need to find a doctor unconnected to the Kaia network and potentially unfamiliar with the app. Now with the collaboration, they can just switch to Luna’s services while remaining on the Kaia health app. Kaia Health & Luna may also help patients to save thousands of dollars on unnecessary medication and invasive surgeries by engaging them in their MSK treatment journey earlier, possibly aiding in the detection of pain points early on and thereby saving money on additional medications and treatments. Also, through continuous therapy from the privacy of their home or workplace, patients may be able to avoid invasive surgery. By using a holistic evidence-based approach Kaia can potentially save patients time, money, and unnecessary pain.


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