HeyRenee raises $4.4M to give patients a virtual healthcare assistant

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HeyRenee has raised $4.4 million in funding to give people a whole healthcare solution that is essentially giving patients a personal care assistant.

HeyRenee is the latest health-tech startup from Renee Dua and Nick Desai, the founders of Heal, which set up a network of doctors to make in-person and virtual house calls to patients.

The goal is to help the underserved and those managing chronic illnesses and conditions as they wade through the paperwork of healthcare providers. And additionally, to connect with an entire healthcare team and relieve the burdens of appointment scheduling, in-home visits, prescription medication administration, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring.

“The assistant will actually look at my day-to-day health and say, ‘Nick, do you still take this medication? Nick, how does this one make you feel? Are you remembering to take your Lipitor without grapefruit juice?,” said Desai, in an interview with VentureBeat. “It then makes a plan that, based on my network options, we can use to leverage the digital health ecosystem.”

Quiet Capital led the second seed round for HeyRenee. Other investors include City Light Capital, Fika Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Mucker Capital, SaaS Ventures, and Tau Ventures. HeyRenee has raised a total of $8.2 million and tripled its valuation in just five months.

Desai said in an interview with VentureBeat that the company is hiring people and has a pilot platform for beta testing launching in a month or so. It plans to launch the platform in the first half of this year and then sign up more customers in the second half of the year.

“As a practicing physician [for] nearly 20 years, I have personally felt the need for whole-person care coordination,” said Renee Dua, chief strategy officer and cofounder of HeyRenee, in a statement. “With the help of all our investors, we can fulfill this need in a way that delights patients, alleviates doctors, and drives down healthcare costs.”

Above: Renee Dua cofounded HeyRenee after taking care of her father.

The company was also named a health-tech finalist in the Mass Challenge, which includes a pilot with PandemicX, the new health equity-focused initiative of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“I’m excited [about] the PandemicX Accelerator cohort (which includes HeyRenee),” said Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health at HHS. “We are at our best when all segments of society work together; we must work collaboratively to achieve the best solutions.”

Above: Nick Desai is cofounder of HeyRenee.

Though coordinated care has been reportedly proven to lower healthcare costs by $7,700 per patient per year, a staggering 74% of seniors still lack a coordinated care plan, the company said. This problem is exacerbated by the reality that 53 million Americans already struggle to care for older loved ones and there will be a shortage of 1.2 million home health aides in the next decade.

“You and your doctor can be in sync because that’s the way healthcare is supposed to work,” said Desai. “We think it’s really important because 53 million Americans are already taking care of aging parents and loved ones. Seniors want to stay home and age in place. They want to age with dignity, and we help them do that.”

An aging population with over 100 million Americans suffering from two or more chronic diseases is driving the fast-growing $9.6 billion per year U.S. market for care management software solutions. HeyRenee aims to ease this burden through high touch, coordinated care across the entire healthcare ecosystem, starting with patients and doctors.

“We’re really the integrator in the space, and your doctor is [the] architect of your care plan, or the general contractor puts all the pieces together,” Desai said.

Desai noted that the company will keep the technology simple, using things like text messaging or Alexa voice controls.

“I think maybe a VR avatar will become a part of this experience in the two to five years timeframe, but not before then because 46% of seniors don’t even have reliable internet connections,” said Desai.

“U.S. healthcare desperately needs scalable, cost-effective, whole-person digital care coordination. We can’t think of two better people to deliver on these needs than Nick and Renee,” said Morgan Livermore, partner at Quiet Capital, in a statement. “Their backgrounds in innovating healthcare technologies and their commitment to ensuring quality care are ideal for delivering a solution that empowers all healthcare stakeholders to collaborate and improve patients’ health.”

Lowering costs matters. But Desai added, “The fundamental goal should be to improve people’s health outcomes. And we know that healthy people cost less. The only way to really lower healthcare costs is to improve outcomes.”

Set to launch in early spring 2022, HeyRenee aims to be the first-ever open platform to work with every provider, partner, and point solution to curate a combination of services for each patient’s specific needs and then guide patients through an easy, interactive daily plan.

“I was immediately drawn to Renee and Nick’s mission and their incredible progress in five short months is breathtaking,” said Eva Ho, partner at Fika Ventures, in a statement. “We are thrilled to support their journey to be the personal care concierge every American needs to care for themselves and their loved ones.”

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