Scouting Report-Casana: Integrating Remote Patient Monitoring into Our Everyday Lives
Casana recently raised $30 million from investors in its series B fundraising round for its smart toilet seat. With this product, the Heart Seat, Casana could change the way we see home health devices. Casana was founded by Nicholas Conn in 2018 after he developed a prototype of the seat during his Ph.D. work at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The product is focused on capturing clinical grade vital signs via heart health monitoring devices that keeps them simple. The fundraising round was led by Morningside Venture Partners and included participation from Matrix Partners, General Catalyst, Outsiders Fund, and a large vertically integrated health care provider. The $30 million in funds are being used to debut the smart toilet seat capable of taking your vital signs.
Casana’s innovative smart toilet seats may provide an alternative for people to monitor their health easily from the comfort of their homes.
The Heart Seat is capable of measuring heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and cardiac output.
This handy toilet seat would be useful in tracking the vitals of someone with an existing heart condition.
The latest fundraiser brings the total capital raised by Casana to $46 million.
Casana was founded to make heart monitoring easier for the millions of people that suffer from abnormal heart conditions. According to CEO Aaron McChord, “Our goal is to be able to monitor a patient’s health more naturally at home, without interruption of their daily routine”. For example, the Heart Seat could be used for an older member of your family such as a grandparent or aunt suffering from hypertension who has memory issues and often forgets to check their blood pressure. With an unobtrusive device like this which requires little effort from the patient for remote monitoring, just having the device in their home would act as a fail-safe and enable continuous monitoring. In fact, Mintu Turakhia, director of the Stanford Center for Digital Health, believes these so-called “ambient devices” represent the next phase of products for the home-health market after wearables. Casana is focused on delivering a product that can make obtaining vitals effortless for both parties, the clinician and the patient. While CEO McChord is hoping that Medicare will agree to pay for the cost of the seat, as well as a monthly subscription for doctors to use the data that is collected, Medicare currently doesn't cover it and there is not a clear-cut payment method in place for the product. However, McChord stated “ I don’t see this being issued as part of remote patient monitoring which is reimbursed by Medicare.
Typically patients get their blood pressure readings when they make an appointment with a doctor or other clinician (or perhaps from a free-standing machine in a grocery or drug store). With the Heart Seat, patients and physicians are getting real-time data on vitals without having to remember anything and with literally no effort. This can potentially take home health monitoring to a new level. Although more recently with the growth in wearables and virtual care, patients can gain readings through wireless blood pressure cuffs or other devices, the patients still need to remember to wear them, charge them and often download the data. With Casana’s product, all you have to do is go to the bathroom and continue with your normal daily routine. While Olive Diagnostics has a similar product that can gather health information by enabling patients to easily gather a urine sample and applying AI insights to it, currently the Heart Seat appears to be less bulky and more natural creating greater ease of use.
The Big Picture:
Casana’s approach to home health monitoring has the potential to change the lives of many while seamlessly improving their care and monitoring. For example, products like this would be a good fit for older patients with cognitive issues who may forget to check their vitals or charge their devices. In fact, a 2019 study on the use of wearable activity trackers by older adults found that “research based on a general population sample has shown that nearly three-fourths of the participants discontinued using activity trackers after 100 days from the initiation date,” By contrast, with low maintenance easy to use devices like the Heart Seat, physicians will be able to monitor their patients while receiving constant updates. Despite this, one challenge the company has yet to overcome is price and potential reimbursement. Although the company is expected to submit the device to the Food and Drug Administration for approval as a class two medical device in the first half of this year, as noted earlier, it is unclear if Medicare or commercial insurance companies will cover the cost of the product.
Nevertheless, products like the Heart Seat may be very useful as seniors look to remain in their homes longer and “age-in-place” or in the senior care space (ex: nursing homes or assisted living facilities). In such institutional settings, monitoring a large volume of patients can be laborious, but the Heart Seat can relieve the effort of manual vital checks from nurses and clinicians. This can improve clinicians’ efficiency, freeing them of the need for routine tasks like taking vitals and giving them more time to work with patients with greater needs. This is especially important in the current environment for healthcare workers, where clinicians are experiencing burnout from COVID and the high administrative burden. Products like these that can help ease the tension and workload by improving efficiency and convenience are sorely needed.