PeerWell picks up $2.1M for surgery preparation app PreHab

By Heather Mack
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San Francisco-based PeerWell, which makes a mobile app to help patients prepare for surgery, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding in a round led by XSeed Capital.

PeerWell’s PreHab platform helps people who are about to get hip and knee replacement surgeries prioritize their health both physically and mentally before the operations happen. By maximizing pre-op health in the form of educational lessons, step-by-step instructions and peer-to-peer networking, patients use PreHab to ease them through the process. The ultimate goal is to reduce risk (both during and after the surgery), as well as get patients discharged directly home after a joint replacement, which can translate to significant cost savings for physicians who are dealing with bundled payments.

“It’s a fully automated way to guide patients through the six weeks between the surgery scheduling and when they go back to the hospital that really feels like a personal experience, makes them feel more comfortable and also improves clinical efficiency,” PeerWell CEO Manish Shah told MobiHealthNews in an interview.

PreHab’s aim is to replace common methods of surgery preparation for patients, which are often time-consuming and inconvenient, Shah said.

“Most hospitals, the primary means by which they are preparing the patient is by handing them a 50-page booklet as they are scheduling the survey, or hosting a class a couple of weeks before surgery that the patient has to find time to come and attend in person,” said Shah. “A much better way to give back to the patient, the staff and the clinic is a service that makes the patient more educated and more aware of what to expect, so when they do show up back to the hospital for the surgery, the are in a mindset that is just more prepared.”

Patients are usually directed to the app by a surgeon or clinic, and the app is integrated with registration codes that go back to the hospital so the patient and care team are coordinated. PreHab creates a checklist geared towards the surgery they are going to have, and creates a countdown roadmap of actions leading up to the surgery to optimize health, such as changes to make to their diet, what kind of medications they should know about, or what exercises to do.

“From the hospital side, it’s not just a set it and forget it kind of thing,” Shah said. “We also work with them to understand their patients and what they can do to deliver better care to them.”

Previously, PeerWell has attracted investments from former and current NFL players, Arian Foster and Glover Quin, which the company owes to the fact that professional athletes are well initiated into the process of getting surgery and actively seek out ways to be better prepared.

“Professional athletes who go through a lot of healthcare procedures understand the complexity around surgery and the benefits of preparation,” said Shah. “They have the personal experience to know if this is something they want to be a part of.”

Moving forward, PeerWell is looking to partner with orthopedic practices and the research institutions around the country that inform such surgeries, and drive adoption of the app in these practices.

But as PeerWell is looking for healthcare and institutional partners, they have already had a fair amount of interest from individual patients themselves, Shah said, which he attributed to the social support aspect of PreHab.

“Patient communities are embracing this,” he said. “Usually, we have to pull patients in, but we are seeing the opposite, where patients are actively reaching out and talking to each other [about our product]."