Personalized breast cancer support with the Brea app
The WHO predicts that the number of cancers worldwide will increase by up to 50 % in the next few years. Depending on the statistics, it is assumed that 37 million people will have cancer in 20 years. Accordingly, cancer is an undisputed threat to human health.
At the same time, in a study published in 2021, almost 50 % of people who have already used a DiGA or health app said they stopped using it because, although it was made for their disease, it was too general and did not meet their specific needs.
Our Berlin-based ecosystem startup Brea Health was founded in 2021 and counteracts this issue with its Brea app. More specifically, the Brea app provides breast cancer patients with personalized support during their therapy and beyond. Jessica Biastoch, Founder & CEO, conveys the importance of such an app as follows:
The last few years have led to a rethinking of the population and the topic of health as well as one's own well-being, both physical and physical, has taken on a new significance in society. This development is also reflected, among other things, in the increasing number of new digital applications. With this development, patients are also becoming customers who can choose from a growing range of offerings, and there is also a trend towards more patient centric solutions as patients want aid that is tailored to their actual needs.
By participating in our "Insuring Digital Health" matchmaking event this september, Brea Health has already had the opportunity to connect with a number of health plans. In an interview with 5-HT, Jessica explains the Brea app in detail and provides insights into the work of the young startup.
How would you explain your solution in three sentences to a professional colleague from the health sector?
"The Brea app is a mobile app from patients for patients that accompanies and supports breast cancer patients of all ages and genders holistically and sustainably from the time of the diagnosis through the phases of therapy and aftercare. Relatives will also be taken into account in the app in the future. At Brea, we are moving away from the “one-fits-all” and island solutions for patients, but instead offering our users adjustable, supportive care by taking individual needs into consideration. We focus on four main areas: organization and medication, patient diary, mental health, and information. Over the past year, with the help of medical professionals, we have developed a holistic, oncological need assessment."
What problem motivated you to start the company?
"Our CEO Jessica Biastoch's own breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 29 as well as the experiences during and after her therapy was the starting point behind the idea of Brea in 2018. Throughout almost a year of therapy, she noticed many existing gaps in the care systems and that those alongside a lack in communication can lead to serious problems during therapy and the recovery phase. Talking to other patients and doctors, she quickly realized that she was not the only one with these difficulties and thoughts.Out of personal dismay, the idea for an app targeting specifically breast cancer patients came up.
How do you convince a pharmaceutical company, a health insurance company or another potential client to set up a pilot project with you?
"At Brea, we understand how important patient centricity and adjustable help is; therefore, our app guides the user along their individual patient journey. The app knows in which phase each user is, which is important because there is a huge difference between just having received the diagnosis and having been in aftercare for three months as needs, worries, and pain points change. This is something our competitors have not yet considered. Furthermore, we developed and implemented a holistic-oncological need assessment that tackles the specific needs of each of our users. We combined the phase of the patient journey, the knowledge of the need assessment as well as socio-demographic data to really offer adjustable help at the perfect time.
Currently, pharmaceutical companies are not very close to their customers. While at times their products are highly needed and often life-saving their image is not very good. Also, their products are mostly non-digital and with the rise of the digitalisation in the health care system they need digital add-on solutions for their drugs. We from Brea are very close to the customers and understand their needs. These insights can be of great value for the pharmacy.
When it comes to health insurance companies, we can tackle the important issue of health literacy of their customers. It is proven that increased health literacy can add to better prevention and our app can help save costs, for example by using our patient diary. A side effect from tracking symptoms could be to detect other diseases early and also reduce the treatment of side effects. The customers of health insurances demand for additional offerings from their insurance company is increasing, so those companies can distinguish themselves by offering apps like ours to offer their customers additional value."
Who are your current customers (groups) and who do you want your potential customers to be?
"Brea is a patient-centric product. Therefore,we are directly targeting the patients themselves. In the beginning, we will offer the app as a non-medical product, which will be available via a subscription model and paid directly by the user. However, we will also consider HCPs as our target group since they will be the ones who recommend the usage of the app to their patients. With this in mind, we have to target them & also gain a very good understanding of how we can also create benefits for them.
From 2025 onward,we aim to have our CE-cert. which will then allow us to conduct selective contracts with public health insurances. So you could also say that they belong to our customer group as well.
The first version of the app, which will be launched at the end of the year, will be available in the German market first. Around 70k people in Germany are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and a further 50k are either in ongoing therapy or aftercare within the first year of their diagnosis. Furthermore, there are more people in aftercare if you consider the prevalence. So as you can see, there is not one kind of breast cancer patient, as breast cancer knows no limits or criterias and can affect anyone. As part of our vision after launching the Brea-App in Germany we will target Austria, Spain and France, ultimately launching our app in the United States of America."
Where do you see yourself in 3 years and how can 5-HT support you?
"In three years time, Brea will be the leading medical app solution in the Germany market. Additionally, patients and doctors will have us in their relevant set, and we will be their “go-to” app. We see ourselves as the established experts in the field of breast cancer, and also see us as advocates for the point of view of patients. In our opinion, treatment should serve the wellbeing and health of patients first. In 2025, we will also launch our app into the French market, aiming to become the leading app for breast cancer patients in France.
With 5-HT, we have a strong partner who can help us reach this goal by giving us invaluable mentoring sessions, coaching, and access to relevant stakeholders. A first important step we have already undertaken was participating at the Viva Technology 2022 where we established first contacts within the French startup and digital healthcare ecosystem. As such, we look forward to utilizing our gained experiences and working with you over the coming years."
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