Introducing Propeller Health, the new name for Asthmapolis

Today we are excited to announce Asthmapolis is now Propeller Health, and our mobile health platform for managing chronic respiratory disease is now Propeller.

We’re on cloud nine over this relaunch, because it’s bigger than just a name change. Here’s a interview with our captain, CEO David Van Sickle, to tell you why we’re ready for liftoff:

Why are you rebranding from Asthmapolis to Propeller Health?

The company started as a solution targeted for asthma and we now recognize an important opportunity to take on other chronic respiratory disease using the same tools and accumulated wisdom that’s already yielding results.

We knew we’d get here, and our FDA clearance last summer spoke to using our system beyond just asthma. That’s because it’s the same kind of situation in other respiratory disease like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) where there are often unexplained patterns of attacks or exacerbations that result in a lot of preventable healthcare utilization.

Using our sensors, mobile apps and personalized services, we help encourage people to self-manage their disease appropriately, and we can also use those same tools to help physicians and care teams better understand the people who are worsening. With that information, clinicians have an opportunity to reach out earlier, and be more effective and efficient in their outreach to help their members gain control of their disease before they suffer a severe exacerbation and end up in the ER.

Where did the name Asthmapolis originally come from?

The big idea behind Asthmapolis was asthma, obviously, and the map. That like a metropolis, we could create a map of asthma through individual contributions of real-time information, and that data would not only help the individual, but also collectively, the larger group would benefit and find utility from those individual contributions.

And that part won’t change with our new name. Today we’re saying it’s not just about asthma, and it’s not just about a map. We – and more importantly our customers – believe it’s bigger than that, which inspired the name change to represent something broader, and to highlight the utility of using technology to reduce the burden of respiratory disease.

Why now?

As we talked to our customers about rolling out larger programs beyond asthma, together we both said, “Asthmapolis doesn’t reflect all we’re about to do.”

Take COPD – it’s now one of the top three causes of death in the US, which is striking in comparison to the progress with stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

And COPD is a disease that can lead to isolation and depression. We’ve always cared deeply about the individual burden of managing a chronic disease, and now we have an opportunity to help foster yet another community of people who are in this together, individuals and their families who are trying to manage a debilitating disease, and empower them to achieve a better quality of life, learning from what others like you have discovered.

Plus there’s a ton of healthcare reform happening in the Medicare market and among ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations), and there’s a real need among many providers and payers to focus on their Medicare population, many of whom have COPD. It’s an important economic disease category for them. The cost to the nation to care for people with COPD is now $50 billion, with $30 billion in direct healthcare expenditures.

In 2014, there will also be readmission penalties, so hospitals won’t be reimbursed for readmissions that occur in a 30 day period for COPD, or any issue that brings them back to be admitted in that following month. About half of the patients who seek treatment in the ER for COPD report having had symptoms for at least four days. So there’s a lot of incentive among our customers to focus on COPD among their 65 and older members, to help them avoid the ER in the first place. But it’s also a big issue globally – COPD was the the #4 cause of death globally in 2011, is projected to be #3 by 2020 and prevalence is particularly significant in a lot of developing countries.

So how did you land on Propeller?

I was on an airplane – no surprise – in the midst of a Biscoff moment, brushing the crumbs out of my keyboard, thinking there was something remarkable about propellers. Propellers are technology that provide this huge benefit but are so simple, almost invisible when they are working. And that was what I wanted to convey: that we make technology that is simple, easy to use, and that doesn’t require people to change. We are almost invisible when doing our job.

Propeller symbolizes mechanical advantage, using technology to achieve these remarkable forces – outcomes that you could generate in a person’s life by just applying technology in a way that didn’t require them to do a whole lot, but yielded significant benefit, including moving air effectively. To us, it’s about lift – innovation – energy – progress. Simple, transparent technology that moves you forward.