Logo: University of Southern California

Moving Hearts to Healthier Conditions

Moving Analytics has developed a smartphone app to increase access to cardiovascular rehab
By: Sam Corey
May 19, 2016 —


Moving Analytics founders (left to right): Ade Adesanya, Harsh Vathsangam, Shuo Qiao. Photo courtesy of Moving Analytics

As our veterans return home after arduous campaigns, the tolls of combat are well-known – physical damage and the deliberating effects of PTSD are widely recognized and are currently being explored in search for better treatments.

However, there is a different bodily stress that accompanies years of nervous system exhaustion caused by the bombardment of explosions, fired rounds and fight-or-flight senses on hyper drive. It’s an ailment that is underappreciated, and one that is currently being addressed by USC Viterbi alumnus Harsh Vathsangam and his startup, Moving Analytics.

According to the Center of Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for one out of every four deaths. Three and a half million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease.

Studies from the American Heart Association find cardiac rehab cuts mortality rates by 30 percent and hospital readmissions by 25 percent. However, 20 percent of eligible patients currently participate in cardiac rehab, a problem Moving Analytics is trying to solve.

“Many studies show cardiac rehab doubles the patient’s chance of living another five years, and greatly improves the quality of their life,” Vathsangam said. “I wanted to help people with heart disease have greater access to cardiac rehab after surgery and change the way medicine is practiced. I saw this as a good opportunity to disrupt the way people are treated.”

According to Vathsangam, if patients learn how to manage their condition, their chances of readmission diminish. In turn, hospitals benefit, because patients aren’t readmitted, saving them an average of $4 million per year.

After a patient is discharged from a hospital, the care provider, often a nurse, is given a dashboard to monitor them. This dashboard enables the nurse to determine what the patient’s needs are and develop a plan.

Moving Analytics app user interface. Photo courtesy of Moving Analytics

Moving Analytics developed a mobile app, allowing the patient to track their progress, communicate with their nurse, provides targeted problem solving and spurs quicker response times to lingering symptoms.

“The app is essentially a companion the patient has to help them with rehab at their convenience,” Vathsangam said. “Since it’s on their smartphone, it’s engaging, which will help them stick to their rehab better. It also helps facilitate the relationship between the patient and the nurse, since they can ask questions. There’s a better transfer of information.”

The Moving Analytics app is a culmination of Vathsangam’s research, an intersection of mobile phones, machine learning for personal health and wellness, and chronic disease management.

A former PhD student from the lab of Gaurav Sukhatme, chair of the USC Viterbi Department of Computer Science and co-founder of Moving Analytics, Vathsangam is joined by fellow Trojan engineers, Ade Adesanya and Shuo Qiao, who serve as the company’s COO and CTO, respectively.

“We see technology as an amplifier of relationships – a tool to maintain that human touch even across vast distances,” Vathsangam said. “Technology can amplify the abilities of the nurse by being with the patient 24 hours a day.”

Vathsangam lists two major barriers to widespread cardiac rehab: cost and convenience.

The patient has to visit a hospital roughly 36 times a year. This is due to an outdated delivery and care ¬coordination model that requires patients to attend these sessions in an outpatient facility, which is often remotely located. If they have day jobs or lack transportation, this can be an issue.

Additionally, rehab programs cost about $150 a week.

Other factors include lack of physician referrals, resource limitations, such as scarce physical space, and staffing.

As a result, most patients are discharged without adequate transitional care. This leads to poor health outcomes, frequent readmission and higher mortality.

Moving the rehabilitation process into the homes of those who need it can cut the number of required visits down to 12 or less, saving patients time, money and hassle. Equally important, this helps nurses balance and efficiently address their needs, as they can help up to 200 patients at a time using the app.

“Unfortunately, our patients aren’t getting the care they deserve after a heart attack or heart surgery,” Vathsangam said. “This is a potentially huge expense to a hospital system and it can endanger their lives. This is a huge opportunity to help a population that has given so much to our country.”

Moving Analytics can help cardiac centers serve the 80 percent of patients who don’t participate with a more convenient and affordable program. Their goal is to increase enrollment, which will generate additional revenue and reducing readmissions.

The fledgling business’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed, as they won “Best Bootstrapped” startup at last year’s SxSW. The award is given to companies with considerable achievements in their respective fields without raising a lot of capital. With over six paying customers, including Trinity Health and NYU Langone, Moving Analytics has booked over $200,000 in revenue.

“It helps us move forward and validates what we’re doing,” Vathsangam said. “As we focus on digital health technology, we know we’re one of the best in this field.”

But the company’s ambitions aren’t exclusive to providing care to our veterans.

“Our mission is to get all people on rehab,” Vathsangam said. “We want to reach up to 10,000 patients in the next two years. We want to generate more research that displays a more cost-effective way of cardiovascular rehab. This is an opportunity to change the lives of many people.”