WellFX, creator of an online and mobile social platform for healthcare providers and patients to manage chronic diseases, says it has received a reported $5 million investment from private investment company CMT Ventures. The Series A financing will allow Petaluma, Calif.-based WellFX to, among other things, complete two pilot tests of its technology, put the platform in general release and develop mobile apps.
The company would not comment on the size of the investment other than to say it was a seven-figure deal, but Xconomy pegged the funding at $5 million.
Indeed, mobile is at the heart of the company's strategy. CEO Jock Putney notes that physicians see patients with chronic conditions perhaps every three months at best. But by offering services wherever people may be, doctors can better engage patients in their care. "You can spend 30 minutes in the morning doing 'rounds'," Putney says.
"The mobile part is absolutely critical," he adds. It lends immediacy, so people don't have to wait until they get to computer to take action. It also facilitates what Putney calls "electronic onboarding" to allow providers to deploy patient self-management programs faster.
The private, secure, cloud-based WellFX platform goes beyond physician social media communities by drawing in patients, according to Putney. "Providers kept saying all of this technology is great, but there's nothing really for the patients," Putney says. "Patients who communicate with each other have better health outcomes," and they're more likely to be active in their own healthcare.
This sort of technology may become an important component of healthcare reform, particularly for accountable care organizations and the patient-centered medical home. "To get accreditation [as a medical home], you have to have tools for self-management," Putney says.
"Obesity is spreading socially," according to Putney, who cites a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Where you see obese patients, you will see more."
The corollary to that is that social factors can help combat obesity. "If we're obese, we don't really know where to go," Putney says. "This gives them a vision as to what the future could look like."
A social platform for someone fighting obesity can deliver "positive peer pressure to engage them," according to Putney. "Oh, by the way, you're not alone" is the central message, he says.
The WellFX platform encourages anonymity so people are more open. "We don't share any personally identifiable data with any third party," Putney promises.
WellFX is working on iPhone and Android apps, but initially will be focusing on the mobile Web. "The WellFX platform is optimized to be viewed on mobile devices," Putney says. "Some patients might not be so quick to download an app."