ReThink Medical raises $3 million for a wearable device to predict heart failure

By Jonah Comstock
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San Francisco-based ReThink Medical raised $3 million to develop a medical wearable to predict and prevent heart failure. The round was led by Emergent Medical with additional funding from Norwich Ventures and Launch Capital. The company is also operating with a previously-awarded NIH grant as well as a strategic partnership with Japanese medical device company Terumo Corporation, which includes an investment. 

"Essentially the problem we’re tackling is heart failure," CEO Reza Naima told MobiHealthNews. "One of the key problems is that patients have no insight into the disease progression in their systems until really late in the development of the disease. You have about a month between the onset of worsening conditions [and heart failure]. It’s not until a few days before you’re in critical shape that you start feeling ill, and by then it’s often too late to prevent the hospitalization."

A number of companies are working on or have even deployed devices targeted at the same space including Medtronic subsidiary Corventis and CardioMEMS, but Naima believes ReThink can offer a more convenient option than an implantable or peel-and-stick sensor. The company's envisioned device is a wearable sensor that the user can put on and forget about.

"We want to make it really simple so our goal is to make it not even adjustable for the patient, once its fitted to you, you can just put it on and take it off," Naima said. "It has a very long battery life; we’re looking at a month to two months per charge. It doesn’t require a smartphone to interact. And its completely waterproof. Really we’re trying to get to this 'You forget that you’re wearing it' attitude. It’s really lightweight and so forth."

The device tracks six different vitals including heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, and fluid levels. It will likely connect by wifi to a hub that will transmit to the patient's care team, who can reach out if the wearable detects signs of a problem. It's based in part on the work of UCSF cardiologist Dr. Liviu Klein, the company's chief scientific advisor. 

ReThink intends to use the funding to build out its team, support clinical trials, and work on the design of the device to make it as user-friendly as possible. 

"We’ve run through some initial trials at UCSF," Naima said. "We’re working on the form factor to make it simple for ambulatory longterm wear. We’re working with some design companies to do that and we hope to start our real clinical trials later this year."

The company is focused currently on the heart disease space, but has fielded some interest from companies who want to use the device with dialysis patients as well as from pharma companies who want to monitor drug reactions.