Ventricle Health: Accelerating Evidence-Based Virtual Care Delivery for Heart Failure
Ventricle Health recently announced that it has raised $8M in seed funding in a round led by RA Capital Management alongside Waterline Ventures and other investors. The company currently supports accountable care organizations (ACOs) in the mid-Atlantic, Texas, Ohio and Florida, with plans to announce more markets soon. According to the company the proceeds of the financing are intended to finance the acceleration of the national delivery of their value-based home care model for heart failure patients in collaboration with value-based care provider groups and payers.
6.2 million adult Americans have heart failure, with prevalence projected to increase by 46% and direct medical costs to reach $53 billion by 2030 (CDC, Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy).
50% of Americans with cardiovascular disease do not have access to a cardiologist with an average wait time for consultation of 26 days (Ventricle Health).
Hospitalization costs are by far the largest costs for heart failure and mean costs per hospitalization for heart failure ranged from $10,737 to $17,830 (Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy)
Despite improvements in the treatment and incidence of heart failure the 1-year mortality rate remains approximately 30%, while the 5-year mortality rises to 40% (Circulation)
The company was founded in 2021 by heart failure cardiologist, Dr. Dan Bensimhon, and a team of veteran heart failure clinicians. Bensimhon, Chief Medical Officer at Ventricle, is a leading board-certified cardiologist and medical director in the Advanced Heart Failure & Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at Cone Health. He is joined by CEO Sean O’ Donnell, who has a background in value-based care delivery and digital solutions. O’Donnell was previously President and COO of Consumer Health Services at the retail-based physician care clinics for Duane Reade and Rite Aid Pharmacies.
According to O’Donnell, “the use of emerging technologies enables a hospital-at-home experience, detecting early signs of disease and implementing evidence-based protocols at a fraction of the cost. The aim of the company is to also build the most proactive, engaging, and impactful provider network for cardiac care in the U.S.”
As noted by the company, access to cardiologists for heart failure patients is a particularly crucial issue. For example, they note the average wait time to secure a cardiology appointment in the U.S. is 26 days which can have a significant impact on follow up care and readmissions.
Ventricle attempts to address this issue by following a care model that is “anchored around well-established guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) pathways” which as noted in the journal Drugs, is “the cornerstone of pharmacological therapy for patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and consists of the four main drug classes…being used in conjunction.” As the article points out, “there is an underutilization of GDMT, partially due to lack of awareness of how to safely and effectively initiate and titrate these medications.”
Ventricle attempts to overcome this by providing patients access to cardiology care appointments from their home in as little as three days. This should help reduce the 30-day readmission rate from CHF which ran as high in one study as 24.4% for those with reduced ejection fraction and was approximately 23% for all-cause readmission. The company believes its home-based and virtually enabled care model can reduce the overall average annual cost of heart failure care by at least 30-50%.
The Big Picture:
According to the CDC, heart failure costs the nation an estimated $30.7 billion in 2012. By 2030, heart failure spending is expected to exceed $70 billion. As noted above, by allowing CHF patients to access clinicians earlier, Ventricle could substantially help reduce costs particularly those for hospitalizations. For example, according to a 2022 study in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy, hospitalization costs are by far the largest costs for heart failure. For example, the article pointed out that the costs per hospitalization for heart failure (HHF) ranged from $10,737 to $17,830 (mean) and charges per HHF ranged from $50,569 to $50,952 (mean) based on an analysis of data between January 2014 and May 2019.
Ventricle Health’s virtual-based enabled care model aims to detect early signs of disease with the implementation of evidence-based protocols at a fraction of the cost, thereby reducing the cost of heart failure care by 30-50% according to the company. As noted in a number of studies, “clinical trials have demonstrated that self-management interventions, including face-to-face patient education, telephone case management, and home visits can improve self-care adherence and reduce the risk of HF-related hospitalizations.” all of which Ventricle appears to reimagine and deliver virtually. This can not only increase access to care but there is a potential to reduce the utilization of hospital and emergency services, which could result in a dramatic reduction of healthcare costs.