HiDoc raises $7m and names new CEO as digital tool for IBS launches


HiDoc Technologies has secured a cash injection of $7 million to help with the launch of its Cara Care digital therapeutic for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fund a move into additional therapeutic categories.

Use of the funding – which takes the total raised by the German digital health company to $16 million – will be overseen by a new chief executive, Jim Mapes, who joins from Optum, a division of US insurer UnitedHealth Group.

The Cara Care mobile app was recently approved by federal health regulators in Germany as one of the first digital health application (DiGA), and the first to be available on prescription in the gastrointestinal health category.

"This means the app that is prescribable by doctors and reimbursable by public health insurance – a model for digital health that every country is watching," said Mapes.

"The Cara Care mission is particularly resonant for me, as I have a personal connection to digestive health," he added.

"Throughout my career in healthcare, I've seen a huge gap in care for digestive conditions, as they often require a combination of modalities in treatment: for example, nutrition, medication, and psychological care. Cara Care combines these modalities and applies the latest research on effective GI care."

A key objective under the new CEO is to expand the use of Cara Care into the US market – the company will shortly be hiring staff stateside to help fulfil that objective – as well as in France and other European markets.

The new funding will also be deployed to broaden HiDoc's portfolio of digital therapeutics "within and beyond gastrointestinal health," said the company in a statement.

It also has digital therapies in development for heartburn-related conditions and chronic inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Food and nutrition manufacturer Dr Schär AG participated in the round as a new investor, joining current backers Sabadell Asabys and Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJDC).

Dr Schär's position in gluten-free and specialised nutrition provides an opportunity to combine nutritional therapy and digital interventions, said HiDoc.

HiDoc isn't alone in taking a digital approach to managing IBS. metaMe Health's Regulora app was approved by the FDA last November for pain associated with IBS, while Mahana Therapeutics' Parallel got a green light by the agency to reduce the severity of IBS last year.

Meanwhile, UK-based Bold Health launched Zemedy, a platform that aims to treat IBS using cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy and stress management, in its first European markets in 2019.

IBS impacts between 10% and 15% of the world's population, according to figures from the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.

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