“10 million more years of life”: USC Viterbi startup is the #1 virtual cardiac rehabilitation program in the United States – USC Viterbi

(L to R) Shuo Qiao, Ade Adesanya and Harsh Vathsangam, co-founders of Moving Analytics (Photo/Courtesy of Harsh Vathsangam)

On September 9, 2021, Harry Holverson suffered a major heart attack which left him breathless and with sharp pain radiating through his chest, shoulders, arms and neck. The 69-year-old Pittsburgh retiree feared the worst.

“I was just wondering what was going to happen next,” Holverson said. “I was worried about another heart attack and if I could ride my bike again.”

His worries were quickly dispelled when he began cardiac rehab with Movn, the #1 virtual cardiac rehab program in the country. Working remotely and intensively for three months with a care manager, a certified exercise physiologist who personalized his diet, exercises and medications, all under the supervision of a cardiologist and other specialists, l Holverson’s condition improved rapidly.

The retired IT technician said he found the Movn easy to use and intuitive. Once a week, Holverson met with her care manager, via video conference via the Movn app, to discuss her progress. Holverson took his blood pressure, weighed himself and exercised daily, entering his results into the app. If he skipped his exercises for a few days, Holverson would get a message of encouragement. If he suddenly gained a few pounds, his care manager would ask if he was okay.

Today, Holverson said he felt better than he has in years. “I would give Movn an A,” he said. “I am delighted with my recovery.” He is even ready to go back on his bike.

Stories like these are what made the service so popular, said Ade Adesanya, MS EMT ’13, president of Moving Analytics. The Irvine-based company, co-founded and led by three USC Viterbi alumni, develops smartphone and tablet-based digital therapies for cardiovascular disease, including Movn.

“Several thousand Americans have used Movn to date, and are doubling every year,” Adesanya said. Clients include Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Washington, Blue Cross-Blue Shield in Illinois, and Veterans Administrations across the country, including Atlanta.

“We are making a real difference in the lives of patients,” said Harsh Vathsangam, MS CS ’10; Ph.D. CS ’13, CEO of Moving Analytics, which has satellite offices in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Atlanta. “When you see them recovering well from a heart attack and hear them say that they are very grateful for our service, it’s very satisfying. On some level, I feel like my personal goal of helping someone live a better life and live longer has been achieved.

Shuo Qiao, MS CE ’15, CTO of Moving Analytics added, “We are patient-centric and use technology to help people.”

heart disease kills

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounting for 25% of deaths. About 18.2 million adults aged 20 and over have coronary artery disease.

For those who survive a major heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation cuts the risk of a second heart attack in half, Moving Analytics said. It also reduces hospital readmission rates by 30%, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiac rehabilitation, which includes exercise and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and improving diet, also reduces the likelihood of a survivor dying within five years of a heart attack by 35%. heart attack or bypass surgery, the CDC said.

In light of these numbers, it would seem likely that most Americans who suffer a heart attack or other major cardiac event would go through rehab. Unfortunately, it is not the case. For example, only 25% of eligible Medicare beneficiaries participated in cardiac rehabilitation in 2016 to 2017, according to the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Experts offer a myriad of explanations behind the low rates, including high patient costs, shortages of cardiac rehabilitation centers and staff, and lack of physician referrals. Even patients who begin the rehabilitation process often give up before it is finished because they lack the time or energy to come to a center for three one-hour visits per week over a 12-week period.

Whatever the reason, heart attack survivors and others too often don’t get the full treatment they need, leading to poor outcomes, including emergency room visits and even death.

Movement

This is where Movn comes in.

The telehealth platform for cardiac rehabilitation connects cardiac patients with a dedicated care manager, often a nurse or exercise physiologist, who creates a personalized rehabilitation plan lasting three to six months. Doctors and hospitals have access to the Movn portal, allowing them to oversee care.

“We offer the most convenient program that people can do from the comfort of their homes whenever they want,” Vathsangam said, adding that 80% of Movn clients complete cardiac rehab, a much higher rate than centers. in person. “movn [users] may even text their care managers, who typically respond within 24 hours or sooner.

In creating the Movn service, Moving Analytics sought to emulate what company executives say is the nation’s first home cardiac rehabilitation program, Stanford University’s MULTIFIT. The company then licensed MULTIFIT’s research and treatment protocols for the care of patients who have recently had a heart attack or heart surgery.

“The Movn service also reduces costs for patients and health insurers,” Vathsangam said.

This is because people who use it have fewer in-person doctor visits and co-payments. They also spend less on gasoline to and from cardiac rehabilitation centers, Vathsangam said. Insurers save money in two ways: telehealth rehabilitation costs less than in-person care; Movn also leads to better health outcomes due to higher patient rehabilitation completion rates. This means fewer costly hospital readmissions that cost between $20,000 and $30,000 per visit.

The seven-year-old, 36-employee company has raised more than $20 million, but expects to land several million more in the near future.

“Moving Analytics was our third investment, about three years ago, and the team has remained the market leader in digital cardiac rehabilitation,” said Henri Pierre-Jacques, Managing Partner of Harlem Capital. “More doctors, patients and providers are demanding access to digital capabilities, and Moving Analytics is well positioned to capture this growing market.”

Born at USC Viterbi

Together with Academic Advisor, Professor Gaurav Sukhatme – the Fletcher Jones Foundation Endowed Chair in Computer Science – Vathsangam wrote a thesis on the use of machine learning to accurately characterize physical activities and to design interventions based on on data based on detected information that won a coveted doctorate. Excellence Award.

Even as he continued his graduate studies, Vathsangam said he had the entrepreneurial bug. He wanted to create something in the field of health but did not know what. Vathsangam figured he would somehow leverage the technical knowledge he gained at USC Viterbi, including a deep understanding of data analysis and sensors.

Vathsangam, who had built digital tools to track people’s exercise habits as part of her thesis, quickly assembled a team to develop a marketable idea. He first appealed to his friend Qiao, then a Chinese student at USC Viterbi, whom Vathsangam had befriended during their time at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Vathsangam then joined Adesanya, whom he had come to know while the Nigerian native worked at the USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

After nearly two years of research, the trio came up with the idea of ​​creating digital therapies for chronic disease management; Moving Analytics was born.

The clash of cultures has greatly benefited the company, said Vathsangam, who was born in India but grew up in Qatar.

Due to their cultural sensitivities, the executives hired a translator to create the Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Tagalog versions of the Movn app rather than relying on Google Translate, which they say sometimes lacks nuance linguistics. Also, the content differs slightly in some apps. For example, the Spanish version focuses on healthy foods that tap into ingredients prevalent in Latino culture.

“Our diversity of thought makes us much more aware of providing culturally competent care,” Adesanya said.

A bright future

Vathsangam said he thinks Moving Analytics has positioned itself well for the future.

The widespread adaptation of Zoom and FaceTime during the COVID-19 pandemic has made insurers and patients much more open to telehealth, he said. Late last year, for example, Medicare began covering virtual cardiac care, including Movn.

“At the height of the pandemic, heart patients across the country also lost access to rehabilitation centers, which temporarily reduced care or closed,” Qiao said. “Many needy patients, especially those with day-to-day work responsibilities, have turned to remote options like Movn, and then spread the word about the effectiveness and ease of remote cardiac rehabilitation.”

Going forward, Moving Analytics plans to invest heavily in marketing and advertising to generate new business. The company also hopes to forge partnerships with insurers in all 50 states by the end of next year, up from 11 today.

More importantly, Vathsangam said Moving Analytics plans to expand its virtual rehabilitation offerings beyond heart attacks and heart surgery to include peripheral arterial disease and other indications such as heart failure.

The company also plans to increase the size of its staff.

“I am excited about the future as we have a tremendous opportunity to save millions of lives through our service,” Vathsangam said. “If we serve a million patients and each lives another 10 years, we will have given humanity back 10 million years of life. Who wouldn’t want to join this mission? »

Posted May 4, 2022

Last updated May 4, 2022

Lance B. Holton