Imagine a disease that kills millions every year. Our hospitals are full of patients suffering from this disease … gasping, trying to catch their breath, often living out the final days of their lives in the ICU drowning on fluids in their lungs. Although this sounds eerily like the COVID pandemic, this scenario has been playing out for far longer.
This is heart failure, a disease we have fought for centuries. 6.2 million people in the United States suffer from heart disease and 1 in 8 deaths every year are related to heart failure.
Heart failure was the original target of what we now call “digital health”, even as far back as the 1990s. Huge nurse call centers would check on patients every day, watching weights and adjusting oral diuretics. Ultimately, the outcomes from this era were mixed, and the programs proved too expensive and cumbersome to be effective at scale. Thus the general zeitgeist has been that heart failure is just too difficult for digital programs, especially without an elusive non-invasive objective measurement of volume status. A winter for digital heart failure treatment came over the industry.
Clinical science has advanced significantly in the last 20 years and we now have a significant arsenal of medications and devices at our disposal to drastically change the treatment of this disease. Add the silver lining of a healthcare system, ravaged by COVID, that is eager to transition to a virtual world and you can see trees budding. We believe spring has come for heart failure.
Our belief at Story Health is that the focus on volume status, while important, is only a piece of the puzzle of effective heart failure treatment. Building a holistic approach to managing the disease is key. This approach must include oral diuretics, and also add on:
- Optimization of non-diuretic heart failure medications (GDMT) at home.
- Connection from the patient’s home back to the cardiology clinic workflow in the EHR.
- Lab and Pharmacy support to reduce access barriers.
- Multi-sensor understanding of volume status.
- In-home therapy escalation before exacerbation.
- Evaluation for LVAD and transplant at the right time.
Only by considering all of these factors together can we tackle this disease effectively.
This is the program that we built at Story Health and have already begun to deploy with our partners (more on that soon!). This solution pairs purpose-built technology with our clinical operations services to ensure that no patient slips through the cracks. Our initial results are encouraging and we can’t wait to share more as the story develops.
Here is a deeper look into the patient experience we are enabling: