Scouting Report-Somatus: An Integrated Care Model for Chronic Kidney Disease
Recently Somatus successfully raised an additional $60.1M, which follows it’s Series C round of $64M, bringing its total raised to over $165M. The funding was backed by lead investor Longitude Capital as well as Optum Ventures, eerfield Management, Town Hall Ventures, The Blue Venture Fund, and Flare Capital Partners. Founded in 2016, Somatus’ goal is to expand their integrated care model for patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease.
According to the CDC, over 37 million (15%) Americans suffer from kidney complications, many of which are undiagnosed.
40% are unaware that they have chronic kidney disease (CKD) while living with severely reduced kidney function. When untreated, CKD can lead to cardiovascular issues and stroke.
In 2019, as a result of an executive order, the Advancing Kidney Health Initiative had an ambitious goal of treating 80% of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) with either at-home dialysis or kidney transplant by 2025 (American Journal of Kidney Disease)
In underserved communities, the prevalence of kidney failure is persistent due to the social determinants of health (SDOH) factors which limit patients in receiving preventative care and managing their health and wellbeing.
With a goal of becoming the world’s best integrated care provider for patients with kidney disease, Somatus was founded by Dr. Ikenna Okezie who wants to provide holistic patient care to improve patient outcomes. Somatus has partnered with major kidney care stakeholders (health plans, health systems, nephrology, and primary care groups) in an attempt to transform kidney care. The improved care model relies on a steady network engagement, dialysis provisioning, and field-based nursing. Somatus claims that their model leads to a 42% reduction in length of hospital stay (compared to the national average). The Somatus model also uses its proprietary RenalIQ® technology platform, an AI-powered diagnostic tool, which the company reports can help predict the disease, disease progression, and recommend the best course for treatment. Since there are no early symptoms of kidney disease, CKD often goes undetected until it has progressed to the final stages of kidney failure. Kidney failure is a progressive and permanent condition that leads to ESRD which requires dialysis and eventually a kidney transplant. Both treatment options are intensive and require proper continuous care. The Somatus’ value-based kidney care model has “seen high levels of engagement and adoption from patients and delivered significant quality and cost outcomes for partners'' According to the company, Somatus currently has over 600 employees in 34 states serving over 150,000 patients.
In addition, in June of 2021 Somatus, announced it has been awarded access to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC) which comprises a 20-year beneficiary database that will be used to examine how demographic data and social determinants of health (SDOH) can impact chronic kidney disease (CKD) outcomes. Somatus will be collaborating with John Hopkins’ Center for Health Equity to study various factors associated with CKD and mortality rates. According to the company, the study is expected to be released in 2022. This study will allow healthcare providers to understand the primary drivers of disparities and use evidence-based practices to intervene and provide better care for many patients affected by kidney disease
With over 600 Somatus partners, Somatus works with patients and providers to provide the best care suitable for the patient’s lifestyle. Somatus can provide at-home dialysis through trained nurses and community health workers who are also tasked with the role of informing the patients of their options, their current status, and their overall treatment plan. According to the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, peritoneal dialysis (PD), which can be administered at home, has greater patient satisfaction, fewer complications, and better health outcomes. Somatus holds a deep understanding of the elements of SDOH and works with their patients to ensure that social barriers are not in the way of their treatment. While providing a high-quality of care, Somatus is set on reducing avoidable costs associated with undertreated CKD. According to their website, though members with kidney disease make up a small percent of the health plan’s total population, the financial impact of ESRD is disproportionately high vs. other conditions. For example, on average, a Medicare beneficiary with an ESRD treatment plan can cost up to $90,000 per year. Additionally, 32% of the annual costs are spent on dialysis services. According to the CDC, in 2018, treating Medicare beneficiaries with CKD cost over $81.8 billion, and treating people with ESRD cost an additional $36.6 billion, with approximately 20% of the Medicare budget being spent on kidney disease.
The Big Picture:
To meet the Advancing Kidney Health Initiative by 2025, CMS updated their ESRD Treatment Choice Model to promote greater use of at-home dialysis, improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare burdens. Somatus has been attempting to transform how kidney care is delivered since 2016. Somatus reports that the current state of kidney disease has a 33% readmission rate for dialysis patients (within 30 days of discharge) and 1.7 hospital admission per year per dialysis patient. Their mission is to equip healthcare providers with tools to detect kidney disease earlier and provide holistic interventions before reaching the final stages of kidney disease, particularly for patients in underserved communities. According to the company their tools include “personalized support and care plans that include nutrition and health coaching, medication management, home dialysis modality education, behavioral health, and social services.” All of these attempt to facilitate the use of home dialysis and increase the rates of kidney transplantation serve to help improve the cost and quality of care for patients with chronic kidney disease. However, studies indicate that home dialysis can often require up to 4-6 weeks of training for proper use, creating a significant opportunity for companies like Somatus. In addition, other studies indicate that training for home dialysis did not vary by education, indicating an opportunity to extend more effective and frequent treatment of chronic kidney disease to many underserved patients who may need it most.
Somatus Lands $64M to Expand Value-Based Kidney Care Model; Home Dialysis in the United States: A Roadmap for Increasing Peritoneal Dialysis Utilization; Effect of Frequent Nocturnal Hemodialysis vs Conventional Hemodialysis on Left Ventricular Mass and Quality of Life