Our Investment in WellTheory: The Virtual Care Platform for Autoimmune Disease
An estimated 50M Americans suffer from autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus, and that number is rapidly rising. However, the path to diagnosis is lengthy and complicated, often taking north of four years. Patients with these conditions face long, complex journeys waiting to be seen by many different specialists before receiving a diagnosis, and appropriate treatment plans are not consistently utilized. Expensive biologic drugs are over-prescribed, and often bring with them not only exorbitant costs, but also potentially severe adverse reactions. Autoimmune conditions create headaches for several different participants of the healthcare system. Patients struggle to find access to relevant medical practitioners and effective treatment plans, all the while suffering through extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable symptoms, and feel isolated while navigating this complex journey alone. Medical providers lack the time to handhold patients through dietary and lifestyle changes to treat their conditions. As the daughter of a rheumatologist and immunologist, I’ve seen firsthand how challenging it can be to accurately diagnose and treat these conditions. Payors struggle with the incredible costs associated with sometimes ineffective medicines to treat these conditions.
WellTheory is a new virtual platform for autoimmune disease, providing 1-on-1 and community-based coaching offerings that enables patients to connect with their personal care team to better manage and treat their autoimmune conditions. They provide a membership-based coaching and nutrition program that helps autoimmune sufferers identify and treat the root cause of autoimmunity. The reaction from WellTheory’s beta participants has been overwhelmingly promising, with the majority of patients reporting improvement in many of their symptoms, and a significant portion of patients reducing the need for medication in the first six months as a WellTheory member.
We’ve been closely following the changing digital health landscape, as investors in digital health companies like Headway, LucidLane, and Sprinter Health. WellTheory sits at the intersection of several important themes, including the unbundling of the primary care physician, the shift towards consumers taking control of their own healthcare decisions, and the rapid rise of telehealth. WellTheory makes it easy for patients to meet directly with healthcare practitioners and aims to help autoimmune patients wean off expensive and often ineffective biologic medications, a win/win for patients and payors who spend upwards of $100B per year on medication.
We’ve known WellTheory co-founder and CEO Ellen Rudolph for many years. Ellen’s strong consumer and healthcare product management experience at Everlane and Oscar Health, as well as her own autoimmune journey, make her the natural fit to lead WellTheory. We are thrilled to back her and the whole WellTheory team as their lead seed investor, along with participation from Box Group, Lux Capital, Scribble Ventures, Rock Health and the CEOs of Headway, Maven, Everlane, Pillpack, and more. We’re looking forward to partnering with Ellen and the whole WellTheory team in support of their mission to reverse the autoimmune epidemic.
–– Amy Saper