Better understanding of fatigue - with the Fimo App

Katharina Kittelberger

Startup Stories

Fatigue is a physical, mental and emotional state of exhaustion that occurs independently of periods of stress. Because even rest and sleep phases do not lead to recovery, fatigue makes it difficult for those affected to cope with everyday life and reduces their quality of life. 
To better understand this disease including influencing factors, Alexander Krawinkel, Managing Director, founded the health tech startup Fimo Health together with two colleagues in 2019. Based in Cologne, Germany, the young team developed the innovative Fimo App, which allows fatigue sufferers to measure various environmental and vital parameters. Subsequent data evaluation and analysis helps sufferers to proactively deal with their individual fatigue.

According to Alexander, the primary goal of the Fimo App is for "anyone affected by fatigue to have an assistant on their side." In an interview with 5-HT, he provides exciting insights into the evolution of the Fimo App into a medical device, how their app is about to go-live now, and what role 5-HT can play in a continued success story.

Alexander Krawinkel, Managing Director of the  health tech startup Fimo Health

FimoHealth - a digital solution for symptom management

Alexander explains the exact approach to the solution as follows: "In the case of chronic diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS) or Long COVID, those affected use the Fimo app and a smartwatch to collect relevant influencing factors. The aim of this is to identify factors that potentially trigger fatigue. These can be exercise, sleep and heat, as well as temperature, light or noise. By combining these different influencing factors with scientific tests within the app, we can help sufferers to accurately record these very factors." 

Together with prestigious researchers at universities and doctors, we have developed the Fimo app. With this, patients can record their fatigue in less than three minutes per day.

Accordingly, FimoHealth can use the data collected to help sufferers proactively manage their symptoms, provide valuable insights, and generate cost savings for insurance companies. Alexander concludes, "We can achieve various positive care effects, such as increasing medication compliance, bringing about a preventive health style, or generally improving quality of life."

The Fimo App - a digital helper for fatigue sufferers

The target group: patients and health insurers

"Fimo Health is primarily aimed at people affected by fatigue. Because they are supposed to use the app free of charge, our customers, at least in Germany, are mainly insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. We also refer to this as a classic health insurance case: the app is available to the insured free of charge and we are paid an amount-X for each time an insured uses it," says Alexander. But for the future, other ways of commercialization are already planned: "In perspective, however, we can imagine moving more in the direction of a concept made up of self-payers in markets such as the USA or the UK and also establishing other models there, such as B2C. In addition, we want to reach corporations in the area of BGM or research institutes in the future, for example," he explains.

What makes the Fimo app unique:

During the app development, FimoHealth placed a lot of emphasis on involving the target group in the development process. In addition, many aspects were taken into consideration that would make the later application optimal. One of these is the intuitive use of the app: "Immediately after the download, the patients are briefed in advance. This is to ensure that they can work with the app as quickly as possible and without further difficulties," Alexander emphasizes.

A solution like Fimo Health's must be developed in a patient-centric way, otherwise it won't work. The positive reception we've received so far from a wide variety of sources encourages us in our work. 

In addition, the Fimo app differentiates itself from the competition on the market through its data collection approach: "As already mentioned, we collect a wide range of environmental parameters - there is no comparable solution to date in this pronounced form. In addition, the patients' data is stored securely on German servers in accordance with the German Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO)," Alexander emphasizes. 
Furthermore, a symptom diary integrated into the app helps patients keep track of their influencing factors. "But also, the medication tracker supports users to always remember to take their medication on time," he adds.  

Finally, thanks to the Fimo app, fatigue can not only be reduced, but non-drug therapies can also be identified.

Above all, the unique team behind Fimo Health ensured the success of the young startup to date

The Fimo app is planned to be available from the 1st quarter of 2022. What are concrete plans after the go-live?

"Once the app is launched, the focus will initially be on diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Long COVID. In the future, we plan to add other disease patterns, such as oncological or rheumatic versions. In the future, in addition to internationalization, we also plan to introduce solutions such as white label or safety technical controls (STK), which are oriented towards pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies." 

In addition, users will be offered an individually compiled range of options in the future, such as mindfulness and exercise training. In this context, the diverse lineup of the thirteen-member FimoHealth team makes it easier to dive into a wide variety of areas: "We bring together a variety of specializations: Doctors, psychologists, statisticians, IT'ers, engineers, and business and marketing experts ensure that we are broadly positioned," says Alexander. But despite a professional, internal set-up, the young startup had to contend with headwinds, including from politicians.  

The central challenge on the way to a medical device

In particular, political regulation has slowed the Fimo app's development to the point of becoming a medical product: "Currently, we have to meet the same regulatory requirements as a drug. However, from our point of view, this is not comparable, because taking a medicine incorrectly has much more far-reaching consequences than using our Fimo App inaccurately," he explains. 

Alexander also highlights the general need for digitalization in the healthcare sector to catch up: "There is still a lot to do here. Very specifically, for example, we lack a standardized interface with which we can play data to doctors or insurance companies. The fact that everyone works with their own information system here makes it impossible for us to share the data in a sensible way. That's why it would be helpful to define uniform standards that make this path more software-friendly," Alexander says. 

5-HT's network as a contact arranger

Alexander describes the collaboration with 5-HT so far as "very pleasant. The exclusively digital processes and the compact 5-HT team have made the coordination process uncomplicated so far. One of our greatest hopes for the future is to get to know even more corporate partners or, if necessary, to gain easier access to investors. We therefore tend to benefit most from the 5-HT network, with its diversity of different partners from the chemical and healthcare industries," Alexander concludes.

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