Backing for Queensland cardiac rehabilitation app

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Cardihab, an Australian-made digital health app designed to improve cardiac rehabilitation participation rates, has announced a $2 million investment led by Australia’s longest running research commercialisation fund, Uniseed.

The company said this latest investment - in which Advance Queensland Business Development Fund, the Queensland Cardiovascular Group and Slingshot Ventures have also participated - will support its launch overseas in a bid to capture a significant proportion of the $2.1 billion cardiac rehabilitation market. 

Uniseed investment manager and Cardihab director, Natasha Rawlings, said, “Digital health is a rapidly growing investment space, and technology is generally under-utilised in the Australian health system. By providing a clinically proven method of solving a very large and growing problem both in Australia and overseas, Cardihab’s position as first in market will help grow a large and patient-centred business."

Cardiovascular disease is the cause of death for one in three Australians, according to the Heart Foundation.

Patients who complete a rehabilitation program are 40 per cent less likely to have a repeat cardiovascular event, according to the Heart Foundation, and 25 per cent less likely to die of a cardiovascular event. However, due to the intensive nature of rehabilitation programs, which are clinic-based and usually require twice-weekly visits for six weeks, less than 20 per cent of patients complete their program.

Cardihab was born out of a joint venture between CSIRO and Queensland Health, where a patient app coupled with a clinician portal was tested in a randomised control trial against the current practice of ‘face-to-face’ cardiac rehabilitation. The trial resulted in a 29 per cent increase in enrolment in cardiac rehabilitation with 70 per cent more patients completing the full program.

The results of the independent clinical trial were published in the international journal Heart in 2014, cited as the world’s first clinically proven method of mobile cardiac rehabilitation. Further follow up trials showed consistent outcomes.

Accordind to CEO Gus Taddeo, “Cardihab has hit the market at a time when global investor interest in digital health is at its peak. Under-resourced hospitals and clinics, increasing healthcare costs, eroding margins, ageing populations and more young people suffering with chronic conditions mean that digital health can help more people at a better price point, relieving the burden on all parts of this complex ecosystem. 

“We will continue to develop the platform with integrations to medical devices and other easy forms of data collection, meaning more people can be looked after, more easily.”

Queensland deputy premier and treasurer Jackie Trad said supporting emerging companies through the $80 million Business Development Fund (BDF) underpins the state government's commitment to growing jobs and strengthen the State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

“The BDF has a unique and highly successful funding model which stands out from the crowd,” said Ms Trad. “The Fund has been successful in growing the pool of angel and venture capital funding to support the growth of innovative businesses, which in turn creates high-value jobs and showcases Queensland in Australia and around the world.

“The BDF is a key plank of our $650 million Advance Queensland strategy which supports programs that drive innovation, build on Queensland’s natural advantages, and help to raise our profile as an attractive investment destination.”