NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Newly renamed BaseHealth officially launched its first product for the life sciences market this week, a health management platform for doctors called Genophen that combines genomic, clinical, and lifestyle information to assess patients' risk of developing more than 40 complex diseases, thus allowing physicians to intervene early and recommend behavioral modification strategies to help their patients reduce risk and improve long-term health.
The company is positioning itself as a provider of comprehensive and personalized health assessments, setting it apart from firms that have adopted a more "fragmented" approach assessing disease risk —offering software and services to analyze clinical and lifestyle information at the expense of genetics, for example. BaseHealth also seeks to fill an existing gap in the market for solutions that support bespoke health action plans for patients.
Genophen assess patients' risk of developing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and more using a proprietary analysis engine that calculates risk based on the information that the patient and physician provide and peer-reviewed data. Patients provide the lifestyle information that goes into the assessment engine, entering into the system data on physical activity, nutrition, stress levels, smoking and drinking habits, and so on, while clinical information is supplied by the hospital's electronic medical record system — this information is currently entered manually into Genophen although there are plans to link it to EMR systems to make the data transfer step more automated. In terms of genomic information, patients can use either genotyping or whole-genome sequencing data — BaseHealth has partnerships with Illumina and an unnamed company to provide WGS and genotyping services, respectively, for patients.
For each patient, Genophen generates a ranked list of both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors — diet and behavior are examples of the former and genetics and family history are examples of the latter — for each disease in the system, adjusting for ailments that only affect one gender — a male patient's profile, for instance, would not calculate a risk score for ovarian cancer. The system also generates graphs that represent how patients' risk evolves over time, and it includes a tool to estimate the hypothetical impact of changes in behavior, for example a better diet and more exercise, on patients' health. Also included is information on possible drug responses based on medical history and genetics, and food lists ranked in order of best nutritional fit. There's also an option to view the genetic variants that are associated with the diseases scored for each patient — these are color-coded on the chromosomes so that genetic markers that increase risk are red and those that decrease risk are green.
Once Genophen has produced its report and the physicians have had a chance to discuss the findings and develop an action plan with their patients, the patients are then given full access to the Genophen system and can track their progress against the agreed upon plan — and see how their risk decreases — using a free mobile application developed by BaseHealth. The company is also integrating the software with third party products such as those developed and sold by Fitbit, a company that offers several wearable devices that track users' physical activity — the link with Fitbit lets BaseHealth pull in the physical activity information that the company's devices track and incorporate that into the patient's risk assessment.
Although BaseHealth is just now bringing its software to market, the company has been working on Genophen since 2011. It first discussed the product with BioInform last spring when it announced a partnership with NextBio — now owned by Illumina — that allowed it to make use of the NextBio Clinical platform for the genomic analysis component of its platform. Hossein Fakhrai-Rad, BaseHealth's co-founder, president, and CEO, told BioInform at the time that his company — then called Genophen like its product — hoped to take advantage of NextBio's curated database of genomic variants and associated diseases to supplement its own internally built repository.
BaseHealth expected to launch its software a few weeks after it announced the NextBio partnership but ultimately chose to push back the release to allow time for beta testing as well as to get a feel for the market and to evaluate potential business models, Fakhrai-Rad told BioInform in an interview last week. The company also chose to change its name from Genophen to BaseHealth, Fakhrai-Rad said, because, among other reasons, it felt the previous moniker was "too technical" and difficult to understand.
Within the last year, BaseHealth has successfully tested the software with 50 physicians who have enrolled more than 250 patients. Doctors' responses to the software have been mostly positive, according Prakash Menon, BaseHealth's chief technology officer, although they have requested some additions. That list includes expanding the scope of Genophen's coverage to include more diseases and more drugs, he told BioInform. A second request was to integrate Genophen with hospitals' electronic health record systems. Menon said that the company has already begun working on EHR integration and plans to release its first proof of concept in the next four months. It hopes to test that system with concierge medicine networks such as MDVIP, he said.
The platform is free for physicians. However, patients will be charged an annual subscription fee to access and use Genophen. That cost will vary — depending on the partnerships the company forms with physicians or care groups — but it will not be less than $200 or more than $500 a year per patient, Fakhrai-Rad said. That fee will likely cover the cost of genotyping, but customers who opt to have their full genomes sequenced will have to pay for that separately, he said. Meanwhile, customers who've already had their genomes sequenced or genotyped in other CLIA-certified labs can just use the existing data.
Silicon Valley, Calif.-based BaseHealth has raised $6.3 million in funding from a number of angel investors. Following this product launch, the company intends to raise its first round of venture capital, Fakhrai-Rad said. He told BioInform that BaseHealth has begun approaching potential investors and that it hopes to raise more than $10 million, although that figure could change.