Pioneers in the healthcare sector: Health Hero revolutionises the diagnostics and management sector

Laura Diez

Startup Stories

In a world where chronic diseases such as long COVID, diabetes and multiple sclerosis continue to pose a major challenge, the innovative start-up HealthHero is on the rise. Their customised solutions in the diagnosis and management of such diseases promise to usher in a new era in healthcare. Below, Holger Semsch, Managing Director of HealthHero, shares insights into the startup's origins, its mission, current successes and future ambitions.

How would you explain your solution to a healthcare professional in three sentences?

HealthHero focusses on the diagnosis and management of chronic diseases such as Long COVID, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Our certified symptom assessment technology (web service) enables practising physicians to make diagnostic decisions quickly and efficiently. Our interactive coaching approach (app) integrates science-based interventions into patients' lives and helps them to lead a healthier life.

The Long-COVID Service from HealthHero

What problem motivated you to found the company?

Although the coronavirus pandemic is officially over, over 2 million Germans are still affected by long/post COVID. In our discussions with university hospitals, the need for a certified symptom assessment tool for post-COVID was emphasised. It is difficult for GPs to afford 50 minutes for a standardised exclusion diagnosis of post-COVID. In long-COVID outpatient clinics, it is often the case that the "wrong" patients occupy the few available slots due to a lack of structured diagnostics. Our structured recording at symptom level enables better utilisation of existing care structures.

How do you convince a pharmaceutical company, health insurer, insurance company or other potential customer to set up a pilot project with you?

HealthHero's services are award-winning, integrated and scientifically sound. The innovative nature of our Long-COVID services was confirmed by independent experts from the German healthcare system when we won the SHI innovation award HealthyHub. Since January 2024, the service has been provided to policyholders of four statutory health insurance funds via a selective contract (§140a). We are also piloting the service in several state initiatives (Berlin, BRB, SH) and cover the entire patient journey (GP, specialist, outpatient clinic) integrated into standard care by using existing structures (e.g. KIM). The service is being further developed in close cooperation with leading experts from German university hospitals (including Kiel, Charité, Marburg) and is also being scientifically analysed as part of evaluation studies. Our diabetes service is also award-winning and is based on a series of scientific studies that have demonstrated a change in behaviour and an improvement in patient health. Thanks to our collaboration with leading pharmaceutical companies in the field of diabetes, we also have experience in combining drug and digital therapy.

Who are your current customers (groups) and who are the potential customers?

Our current customers are exclusively statutory health insurance companies with whom we work via a selective contract (§140). We hope to expand our customer base to include other health insurance companies and to extend the indications covered. Another special feature of the long-COVID sector is that many doctors, clinics and even ministries have left the usual routes and are driving forward solutions. We are convinced that the added value offered by our orchestration of various service providers (GPs, specialists, clinics) will be recognised. Market access via DIGA could also become an option for us in the future.

Where do you see yourselves in 3 years' time and how can 5-HT support you?

We are committed to the goal of providing modern and hybrid care using digital technologies. In three years' time, we hope to be able to provide further indication-specific digital diagnostic tools and link these with existing regional care structures. Ideally, the 5-HT network will enable us to establish contacts with health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare networks at state or national level.

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