French startup Wefight has announced it raised €1.8m ($1.98m) to accelerate the development of its virtual companion, which aims to combat loneliness in people with chronic diseases.
The app named ‘Vik’ can answer patients’ questions about their condition, treatment and care pathway. It features services such as smart pill reminders, a notebook to monitor side effects and personalised therapeutic education.
Vik launched in 2017 and has already been made available to patients with breast cancer, depression, asthma and migraines. Wefight now plans to extend the product to a further 33 disease types by 2020.
The funds were secured through the EIT Health Investor Network, a pan-European network which connects promising health startups with private and institutional investors for financing and co-investment.
WHY IT MATTERS
One third of adults in European Union member states are living with chronic disease, and studies have found that loneliness is high among these patients. Research has shown this can lead to poor disease management, depression, and higher rates of hospital admission for longer periods of time.
“Loneliness in chronic disease is a significant concern as it has a huge impact on those living with such conditions; as well their families, health systems and society as a whole,” said Dr Kurt Höller, director of business creation at EIT Health.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
In Finland, the Digital Service Center Helsinki has created tech-enabled tools to help remotely monitor elderly people in their homes and tackle loneliness. For example, participants can video chat with their peers at lunchtime or take part in virtual exercise classes, religious sessions and cultural events.
ON THE RECORD
Benoît Brouard, co-founder and director of Wefight said: “Our team is proud to have convinced investors who share our values and who will bring their expertise to help us increase Vik's social impact.”
“We wanted to meet the needs of patients and address caregivers’ needs. To achieve this, we included patient associations in the development of Vik from the very beginning.”
Höller of EIT Health said: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to meet the needs of patients without adding further burden to already struggling health services, and we are proud to support WeFight in their ambitious vision for their technology.”