The problem we solve: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a strikingly common and potentially life-threatening mental health condition, affecting 1 in 7 mothers in the US. While the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends for for universal perinatal depression screening and implementation of preventive treatments for those at higher risk of PPD, in reality, only half of women who develop perinatal depression are ever identified and of those, only a fraction are successfully connected to treatment. PPD screening using evidence-based instruments, such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) are inconsistently and infrequently utilized across clinical settings, are reactive rather than preventive in nature, and are vulnerable reporting biases secondary to shame and stigma. Even when depression is detected, that information often fails to be integrated into the clinical workflow, resulting in a failure of the health system to address a major health determinant for women and children.
About our solution: Iris OB Health has developed an algorithm that uses data from patient Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and applies machine learning to identify women at risk of PPD. This information is then integrated into patients’ EMR within the existing clinical workflow, thereby enhancing the opportunity for timely symptom screening and effective intervention. Over the next 12 months, the Company also plans to develop severity-dependent intervention options available to clinicians for the treatment of mild, moderate and severe PPD symptoms. For example, the company is developing a HIPAA-compliant, mobile application that augments clinical behavioral support with personalized, patient-directed activities and outcomes reporting, e.g. mood, and nutrition. This approach will: 1) increase the number of women successfully screened for PPD, 2) provide an opportunity for effective PPD prevention, 3) increase equitable access to appropriate treatment, and 4) improve patient-provider communication.Progress to date:
Using de-identified patient electronic medical records data from 22 health systems across New York City, we developed and validated a robust PPD risk stratification algorithm (provisional patent filed); and in May 2019, Iris OB Health Inc. won the Weill Cornell Medicine Business Challenge, and received a $75,000 award as seed investment. (See: https://news.weill.cornell.edu/news/2019/05/biomedical-business-plan-challenge-nurtures-weill-cornell-medicine-entrepreneurs)
Currently, we are partnering with OBGYN and Psychiatry practices at Weill Cornell Medicine to initiate a clinical trial for testing the platform’s usability and its impact on improved screening and treatment decision making for PPD. Additional discussions are underway to conduct similar studies at Columbia University, New York University, and the Mayo Clinic. Commercially, early discussions are underway with pharmaceutical companies (e.g., Sage Therapeutics) and health plans (e.g., Optum and Aetna).
Creator: Jyotishman Pathak
Location: New York
Education: Iowa State University; Mayo Clinic
Bio: Dr. Pathak is the Frances & John L. Loeb Professor of Medical Informatics, and Psychiatry, Chief of the Division of Health Informatics, and Vice Chair of the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University in New York City. Prior to joining Weill Cornell in 2015, he was the Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His current research focuses on secondary uses of electronic health record (EHR) and insurance claims data, and clinical decision support systems for personalized therapeutics for improving mental and behavioral health outcomes.
Hospital Affiliation: Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Title: Founder & CEO
Advanced Degree(s): PhD
Co-Founder & CMO, MD
Biography: Dr. Hermann is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine, Director of New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Payne Whitney Women’s Program, and Director of the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center. Dr. Hermann is a practicing reproductive psychiatrist and institutional leader in the field of Women’s Mental Health. Her research focuses on innovative digital technologies for maternal mental health as well as maternal psychological development over pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Title: Co-Founder & CMO
Advanced Degree(s): MD
Head of AI, PhD, MS
Biography: Dr. Zhang is an Assistant Professor of the Division of Health Informatics in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University in New York City. Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on developing and applying various data analytic techniques on large healthcare data such as electronic health records.
Title: Head of AI
Advanced Degree(s): PhD, MS
Meghan Reading Turchioe
Head of UI/UX, PhD, RN, BSN
Biography: Dr. Reading Turchioe is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Division of Health Informatics in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University in New York City. She is also a Registered Nurse. Her research focuses on developing and implementing user-centered digital health tools for collecting patient-reported outcomes and other patient-generated health data. A large part of this research involves developing visualizations of health data to patients to improve interpretation of personal health status and bolster engagement.
Title: Head of UI/UX
Advanced Degree(s): PhD, RN, BSN
Biography: Dr. Rochelle Joly is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Weill Cornell Medical College. She is an actively practicing physician with an interest in further improving the use and value of health information technology in the clinical setting. She is currently involved in research focusing on the implementation of digital health tools in the perinatal period. Dr. Joly represents the Gynecology department in the Clinical Leadership Group for the Epic Together initiative.
Advanced Degree(s): MD
Board Member & Business Advisor, MBA
Biography: Mr. Michael Laskoff founded, led and raised over $30M in venture capital for two, technology-enabled healthcare service companies, Annum Health and AbleTo – the leading provider of virtual behavioral health servicing patients nationally. He is an advisor to Medorion, CareTribe, Triggr Health, and Barcada Health, as well as a current board member at Wellth, a behavioral economics company and a past board member of The Visiting Nurse Services of New York. Michael is a published author and former BusinessWeek columnist. He has a BA in political science from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Title: Board Member & Business Advisor
Advanced Degree(s): MBA
By leveraging data from patient electronic medical records, Iris identifies women who are at risk for PPD, and collects patient reported outcomes in a stigma-free environment to facilitate shared clinical decision making with the providers. Depending on patient severity, the platform generates personalized treatment plans based on the American College of Gynecology (ACOG) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) guidelines, assists with emotional and behavioral health wellbeing, and connects expectant and new mothers with local services and community programs.
The American College of Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that OBGYN and other obstetric care providers complete a full assessment of mood and emotional well-being (including screening for PPD and anxiety with a validated instrument) during the comprehensive postpartum visit for each patient), but this guideline is often overlooked. Iris addresses this issue by automatically identifying women who have an elevated risk of PPD providing clinicians with enhanced capability to detect and treat the condition.
Hospitals lose revenue daily through preventable ED admissions. With the help of Iris, patients will be connected to their provider network throughout the perinatal period. Through active nudging Iris will ascertain that patients continue care upon discharge from the hospital post-partum in a private setting where patient will feel comfortable connecting with healthcare professionals in a vulnerable time. Currently patients may experience difficulty reaching a provider during the initial 6 week post- partum period. Iris will serve as a familiar connection during this time ultimately preventing patient admission in the ED that may be managed poorly and in a more timely fashion. Additionally patients will likely need less costly care when undergoing ‘preventive mental health’ with Iris.
Iris has the capacity to retain patient within the specific hospital practices (in-network referral), increasing hospital revenue while enhancing the coordinated care received by the patient.
Iris is exploring partnerships with the following stakeholders:
Health plans: Iris will partner with insurance companies to increase preventive screening and timely, clinical intervention, therefore decreasing large costs associated with preventable hospital and ED admissions as well as other preventable costs associated with untreated PPD. Preliminary discussions for such a partnership are underway with Optum and Aetna.
Pharmaceutical companies: Iris will partner with pharmaceutical companies and use the platform to identify patients at risk for PPD who might be eligible for on-going or future clinical trials that are developing treatment for PPD. Preliminary discussions for such a partnership are underway with Sage Therapeutics to conduct studies on the use of brexanolone (Zulresso) - the first, and till date the only, FDA-approved drug for treating PPD.
As stated in our biographies, Dr. Pathak - Founder & CEO - is Professor of Medical Informatics & Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University in New York City; Dr. Hermann - Co-Founder & CMO (Psychiatry) - is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine; Dr. Zhang - Head of AI - is Assistant Professor of Healthcare Policy & Research at Weill Cornell Medicine; Dr. Reading Turchioe - Head of UI/UX - is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Health Informatics at Weill Cornell Medicine; Dr. Joly - CMO (OB-GYN) - is Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine; and Mr. Laskoff - Board Member & Advisor - is the former CEO of Annum Health and AbleTo. Additionally, our advisory board includes Dr. Myrna Weissman, Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical College and New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City.
Key Milestones Achieved and Planned
In May 2019, Iris won the Weill Cornell Medicine Business Challenge, including a cash prize of $75,000. This funding has been applied to further refine the PPD risk identification algorithm using patient electronic medical record (EMR) data from over 22 health systems across New York City. Ongoing collaborations with the Nir Kalkstein Institute (https://kinstitute.org.il) in Israel is further validating the algorithms using EMR data from across Israel and the UK. In November 2019, Iris will launch its first IRB-approved clinical study at Weill Cornell Medicine to assess clinical workflow integration, patient-provider shared decision making, and platform usability. Additional discussions are underway to conduct similar clinical studies at Columbia University, New York University, and the Mayo Clinic. These studies will inform ongoing development of the Iris platform.
Iris is also participating in multiple pitch competitions and accelerator programs including the Cornell Entrepreneurship Summit (http://summit.eship.cornell.edu/2019/), the HITLAB World Cup (https://www.hitlab.org/world-cup), and the ERA Winter Program (https://www.eranyc.com/apply/).
Our Competitive Advantages
Iris has multiple competitive advantages and distinguishes itself in the market in a number of ways. First, the PPD risk prediction algorithm is “EMR agnostic” - the algorithm was initially developed using data from Epic Systems®, and subsequently validated using patient data from multiple commercial EMR systems in the US, the UK, and Israel. This work is based on over a decade of research led by Iris team members on deriving insights from clinical data. To our knowledge, our algorithm (patent pending) is the only approach for automated, cost-effective, timely, and targeted PPD risk identification. Second, the Iris platform facilitates robust collection of patient reported outcomes (e.g., mood, emotional wellbeing, nutrition) in a non-stigmatized environment, and incorporates this information in treatment shared decision making between patients and providers. This approach is expected to lead to better patient outcomes, quality of care, and patient satisfaction. Third, the Iris team comprises multidisciplinary experts from biomedical informatics, information systems, practicing OBGYN and psychiatrists, nursing and business development. Collectively, the team has over two decades of experience in academic innovation, entrepreneurship, and establishing successful digital health companies.
Barriers to Entry
Iris OBHealth has established three important barriers to entry. First, the company is comprised of highly-accomplished, cross-functional professionals representing medical informatics, psychiatry, and OBGYN as well as previous entrepreneurial success. Second, the Company has an early mover advantage: it has already filed a provisional patent for the identification of PPD patients (July 2019) and is now preparing to test its second generation algorithm. Finally, Iris OB Health team has acknowledged expertise in both data analytics EMR/Revnue Cycle Management (RCM) systems, such as Epic. As a result, clinical data can be integrated into existing clinical workflows, thereby increasing the likelihood that Iris OB Health data will be acted upon by clinicians and patients.
Funding, Partners and Alliances To Date
With respect to non-dilutive funding, Iris has raised $75,000 by winning the 2019 Weill Cornell Medicine Business Challenge. We will also be applying for Phase I/II NIH SBIR grants in January 2020. In addition, the Company is seeking to raise a $750,000-1,000,000 seed round using convertible notes.
With respect to partnerships, we are in discussions to add Columbia University, New York University, and the Mayo Clinic for adoption of Iris OB Health.
Iris is currently in a pre-revenue stage.
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