You wouldn’t expect a medical app to get its start as a Snapchat competitor. Neither did video chat startup TapTalk’s founder Onno Faber. But four years ago he was diagnosed with a rare disease called neurofibromatosis type 2 that caused tumors, leading Onno to lose hearing in one ear. He’s amongst the one in 10 people with an uncommon health condition suffering from the lack of data designed to invent treatments for their ailments. And he’s now the co-founder of RDMD.
RDMD aggregates and analyzes medical records and sells the de-identified data to pharmaceutical companies to help them develop medicines. In exchange for access to the data, patients gets their fragmented medical records organized into an app they can use to track their treatment and get second opinions. It’s like Flatiron Health, the Google-backed cancer data startup that just got bought for $2 billion, but for rare diseases.
Now RDMD is announcing it’s raised a $3 million seed round led by Lux Capital and joined by Village Global, Shasta, Garuda, First Round’s Healthcare Coop, and a ton of top health tech companies, including Flatiron investors and board members. The cash will help RDMD expand to build out its product and address more rare diseases.
While data infrastructure supports development of treatments for more common diseases like cancer and diabetes, rare diseases have been ignored because it’s wildly expensive and difficult to collect the high-quality data required to invent new medicines. But “RDMD generates research-grade, regulatory-grade data from patient medical records for use in rare disease drug R&D,” says RDMD CEO Nancy Yu. The more data it can collect, the more pharma companies can do to help patients.
With RDMD’s app, a patient’s medical data that’s strewn across hospitals and health facilities can be compiled, organized and synthesized. Handwritten physicians’ notes and faxes are digitized with optical character recognition, structuring the data for scientific research. RDMD lays out a patient’s records in a disease-specific timeline that summarizes their data that can be kept updated, delivered to specialists for consultations or shared with their family and caregivers.
If users opt in, that data can be anonymized and provided to research organizations, hospitals, and pharma companies that pay RDMD, though these patients can delete their accounts at any time. Because it’s straight from the medical records, the data is reliable enough to be regulation-compliant and research-ready. That allows it to accelerate the drug development process that’s both lucrative and life-saving.
So far, RDMD has enrolled 150 patients with neurofibromatosis.