Medical tech firm with RIT roots gets $14 million boost

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With $16.6 million in total capital, Casana is ramping up its bid to transform in-home heart health monitoring. Formerly known as Heart Health Intelligence and run by software maven Austin McChord, the business recently secured $14 million in Series A funding.

Casana plans to use the Series A funds to market the Heart Seat, its first product. The financing round was led by General Catalyst and the Outsiders Fund, a venture capital firm cofounded by McChord. Toilet seat manufacturer Bemis Manufacturing Co., lead investor in Casana’s seed round, also participated.

Originally developed by founder Nicholas Conn at Rochester Institute of Technology, which also is McChord’s alma mater, the Heart Seat is designed to help physicians keep tabs on patients between doctor visits. A cloud-connected, self-contained cardiovascular monitoring system, the Heart Seat measures parameters linked to heart health.

Casana will continue to validate the clinical-grade technology within the Internet of Things device, pursuing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company will also use the funds raised to examine the benefits of an IoT heart health device for heart-failure patients with health systems and risk-bearing organizations including the University of Florida and the Villages Health, officials say.

“Our goal is to be able to monitor a patient’s health more naturally at home, without interruption of their daily routine,” McChord says. “The toilet seat is not a tech gadget. Unlike a wearable device, you can’t take it off, forget to use it or mess it up. If we do our job right, when patients use our effortless in-home heart monitoring device, we are invisible unless their health status needs attention.”

Peer-reviewed research has shown that the Heart Seat was able to capture data associated with blood pressure, stroke volume and blood oxygenation—opening the door to information that was previously unattainable at home. Future work related to clinical benefits include reduction in heart-failure hospitalization. 

Jeffrey Leiden M.D., a clinical cardiologist and chairman of Casana, points to the importance of getting a real-time snapshot of patients’ health. Such information helps with decisions on medication.

“As medicine moves out of the doctor’s office and into the home, Casana is employing a cutting-edge, user-friendly in-home heart health monitoring device,that allows doctors and patients to monitor their cardiac health status from home on a daily basis,” says Leiden, who previously was CEO and chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. “The Heart Seat has the potential to both improve patient outcomes with heart disease prevention and decrease the high costs of heart failure in the U.S.”

Remote patient monitoring has surged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A January report by Grand View Research estimates the global RPM system market to top $4 billion by 2028, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 20 percent over that period. Home health care is expected to be the fastest-growing segment, based on the rise in the number of patients using such systems during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The next health revolution will bring sensors into everyday objects, and Casana is doing groundbreaking work creating a new category of effortless in-home heart health monitoring, using connected sensors,” says Paul Sagan, a Casana board member and senior adviser at General Catalyst. “Casana has a very promising future in transforming patient monitoring, starting with heart disease prevention.”

As heart failure becomes more prevalent here and around the world, physicians will continue to look for ways to monitor patient health, experts say. In a policy guidance, the American Heart Association states its support of initiatives that increase access to and incentivize the appropriate design and use of evidence-based remote patient monitoring technologies. Patients’ health outcomes, however, hold the key to success of these advances.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.

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