Riva Health wants to turn your smartphone into a blood pressure monitor – TechCrunch

Riva, based by scientist Tuhin Sinha and Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus, wants to assist individuals measure their blood pressure in a clinically-approved approach. Blood pressure might help point out at-risk sufferers earlier than they’re really in danger, exhibiting early indicators of coronary heart illness. And whereas different {hardware} options available on the market promise the identical end-goal, Riva wants to be a purely software program resolution that integrates with {hardware} that it thinks its end-user has in any case: their smartphone.

The firm, launching out of stealth as we speak, has raised $15.5 million in seed funding in a spherical led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from True Ventures. UC Health and University of Colorado Innovation Fund accounted for $5 million of the spherical, with different angels together with GoHealth’s Brandon Cruz and Madison Industries Larry Gies. Greg Yap of Menlo, who talked to Sinha for 3 years earlier than investing, might be becoming a member of the board.


Kittlaus, who additionally based AI-assistant Viv, says that he started occupied with how to make a distinction in digital well being after present process his personal extreme well being points. Kittlaus was recognized with pancreatic neuroendocrine most cancers in 2016, the identical kind of most cancers that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs died from.

“I spend time researching ideas on it, but I was missing the thing that I’ve had in both my previous companies, which was some amazing technical innovation that could form a wedge that you can move the world with,” he mentioned.

Kittlaus talked about this inside dialog along with his good friend, Shawn Carolan, this previous summer time. The good friend, who was the primary investor in Siri, launched him to Tuhin Sinha, the scientist who spent years creating the expertise that’s used to energy Riva.

To use Riva, all a individual wants to do is open the app on their telephone and faucet ‘Go’, which triggers the digital camera flash on the again of the telephone. The app will then information the person to place their finger over the appropriate digital camera, and assist them alter positioning till it locks into place. After that, Riva will use the sunshine to monitor blood pressure change and create a rendering of it on display screen.

BP Purple BG

Riva Health deliberate design, topic to change.

“The well-known part of this technology is shining a light on a blood vessel and getting a wave out of it,” Sinha mentioned. “The novelty is the shape of the wave, how it relates to blood pressure, and our secret sauce is looking at those waveshape changes and validating them in a rigorous and comprehensive way.” Sinha declined to share how they’re validating precisely, however mentioned that it’s key that a startup has to measure blood pressure in a number of totally different eventualities – assume standing or sitting – to see whether it is efficient.

Once Riva tracks 5 to seven heartbeats price of information, it has a complete understanding of somebody’s blood pressure at that second.

The information, which is HIPAA compliant, can then be despatched to a household doctor or physician’s workplace to be analyzed if a danger is current, beginning with hypertension.

“Moving to a platform like the smartphone is mobilizing the measurement and management of [health and disease management],” Sinha mentioned. Riva Health is a purely software program resolution.

The firm is at present within the means of verifying its software program with Android telephones, however Kittalus says that “any modern phone should be able to acquire the signal needed” to work.

A giant hurdle for any well being tech firm, and particularly Riva, is whether or not it may well get FDA approval for medical utilization. The firm is at present engaged in that course of with the FDA, and can ask customers who pilot its free app, popping out this summer time, to take part within the trial and data-gathering to bolster its approval course of.

Right now, Riva is utilizing its expertise to monitor the adjustments in blood pressure in a medical setting, and the second-half might be in a residence setting. By monitoring the usage of its system in the true world, it may well show that it really works in a laboratory and residential set-up, serving to it show that its illness administration expertise is efficient.

“There are a lot of gizmos and gadgets that will claim to do blood pressure reading,” Kiittlaus mentioned. “I call it blood pressure as a novelty where it gives you blood pressure reading but not a clinic.” For instance, a Fitbit does monitor blood pressure however persistently underestimates the quantity, a study says. Other options just like the Apple Watch or cuffless wearables measure blood pressure for non-clinical utilization, which signifies that it isn’t tremendous correct and solely notifies apparent blood pressure issues.

Riva wants to be day by day and exact sufficient to be relied on by docs, which is a part of its total route to earn a living. While the workforce wouldn’t share any revealed analysis or proof about its scientific methodology, Dr. Richard Zane, the chief innovation officer of UCHealth mentioned that it’s “bulletproof” expertise. Over 700 corporations previously three years have tried to work with Zane’s workforce, and Riva is without doubt one of the few that met the bar.

“When our team tested it, it actually worked out of the box the first time, which basically never happens,” Zane mentioned. He added that one of many greatest boundaries to entry is that folks have wanted gadgets previously, and Riva brings “a novel technology that actually works that will be embedded in something that patients already carry around with them and allow them to manage their heart disease or hypertension.”

“The core product of the company is healthcare outcomes,” Sinha mentioned. The firm is a part of the wave of startups that imagine outcome-based healthcare is the longer term, a mannequin the place docs are paid for outcomes as an alternative of the variety of visits they full in a day. With this imaginative and prescient, Riva plans to monetize by promoting outcomes to hospital methods and suppliers: if it may well present a device to assist docs preserve individuals out of surgical procedure and point out points sooner than earlier than, it may well make a strong argument as to why methods ought to undertake it.

Only 20% of healthcare works on the value-based mannequin, so this might be a hurdle even with the appropriate sentiment. In the meantime, Kittlaus says that it’s working with insurers to pay for its service. Riva would get reimbursed for treating and managing hypertension.

“We want to keep it free for the consumer, free for the doctor, and insurance will cover it,” he mentioned.

If and when the FDA clears this expertise, Kittlaus says that docs and medics “will still be skeptical about it” however will in the end be satisfied of the outcomes being extra correct, and ongoing, than the cuff.

“You’re prescribing an app,” he mentioned. “Instead of medicine.”

The app, pending FDA approval, might be out there for public late this 12 months or early subsequent 12 months. The subsequent few months for Riva might be key in figuring out its success and validity – and Sinha, the chief scientist, say will probably be rigorous, however quick. He has a private tie to the corporate’s success.

Sinha has misplaced 5 brothers, one sister, and his father earlier than the age of 59 to coronary heart illness. Now, his app has the power to monitor the situation that made him lose these relations within the first place.

“I feel like I have a ticking time bomb in my chest,” he mentioned. “And if anything, I’m going to do this for myself.”

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