How this healthtech company is improving the lives of chronic disease patients

April Bohnert

Chronic diseases affect about half of all adults, cause about seven out of 10 deaths and are among the most costly ailments to treat. While some are easily treated and even preventable, others require lifelong management.

However, tracking symptoms and medication intake accurately and consistently can be tedious. Without such reporting, patients have less insight into their disease and doctors have less power to effectively treat their patients. In the end, many chronic disease sufferers do just that — suffer.

Enter Cliexa.

This budding healthtech company wants to transform the way people track and treat chronic disease, using tech to simplify and improve the tools patients have to self-report on their diseases. Their suite of mobile apps is designed to help patients translate their symptoms and disease activity to a scientific model that is recognized and used by their physicians. Patients track the severity and location of their symptoms in the app, along with other factors such as diet and medication regimen.

The reports help doctors better understand how and when symptoms appear in patients so they can adapt treatment to that patient’s needs. Though they have plans to expand their app to other diseases, their current focus is on rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

According to Mehmet Kazgan, the CEO of Cliexa, the typical rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient visits his or her doctor once every two months. When patients do get in front of their doctors, the average appointment lasts only 15 to 18 minutes, and in between appointments, RA patients often turn up in the emergency room with unmanageable pain.

The problem is that many patients struggle to quantify their symptoms, leaving doctors with only anecdotal evidence that offers little guidance about how they can make meaningful changes to a patient’s treatment. Without a holistic view of a patient’s experiences, those short, bi-monthly discussions can prove unproductive.

The idea for Cliexa first emerged when, in 2014, Kazgan met his now-partners Bahri Bilir and Esra Nutku-Bilir, two doctors who were looking to create an online disease management protocol tool built for fellow physicians. But because the platform was considered a medical device, it had to go through the long and rigorous process of being approved by the FDA. After watching their platform languish in FDA limbo for over a year, Kazgan decided they needed to make a shift.

In November of 2015, Kazgan and his partners pivoted and began developing the Cliexa-RA app. They released the app in January of 2016 and, shortly after, joined the Boomtown Accelerator program to develop their ideas even further. Since then, they have released a similar app for inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Cliexa is currently partnering with Kaiser Permanente to develop a case study proving the efficacy of their RA app. By developing the technology and then validating their methods in this way, Cliexa hopes to build into other markets and explore both B2B and B2C applications for the model.

Eventually, Cliexa plans to partner with insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare providers to implement their technology in a variety of settings. They’ve brought on a board of directors that spans the healthcare spectrum, seeking buy-in from experts on a variety of health conditions.

“Our goal is really to scale this out for other diseases and show that chronic disease management can be done by patient-reported outcomes and close that feedback loop as quickly as possible,” Kazgan said. “Our real vision with that is to give a better quality of life to the patients. In other words, how can we make this chronic disease pattern in people’s live a little bit easier to deal with?”

 

Photos via featured company.

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