Over 70 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure. High blood pressure is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of heart attacks and strokes. The problem is, outside of the doctor’s office, most people have no consistent, ongoing way to manage their hypertension, and their risk of heart failure or stroke thus increases. Most people spend years trying to get the condition under control, resulting in a critical problem for patients and a massive drain on the overall healthcare system. So, when we met the team at Sentinel and witnessed the power of what they’d built, we got excited about Sentinel’s approach to solving this problem.
Led by Dr. Nirav Shah, former stroke director of Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Sentinel’s approach is unique. The company blends off-the-shelf hardware with proprietary software to create an impressive remote monitoring solution. Sentinel leverages its own medical staff to identify and assess potential concerns in patient data (e.g., blood pressure) and suggest actions for the patient in near real-time. The service both improves the patient's health and does not require an additional hospital or provider visit. Sentinel wraps this “hardware-software-service” model into a differentiated, full-stack solution for clinics and hospitals that includes billing, compliance, and operational expertise. This solution approach and the unique business model it enables is another thing that sets Sentinel apart.
Before coming to PSL, T.A. McCann spent years working in the “quantified health” space as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Providence, one of the largest health systems in the United States, and as a co-founder of Senosis, which leveraged the native sensors on the phone to deliver clinical diagnostics. He has seen first-hand how blending the capabilities of mobile devices, intelligent data collection, and the cloud can dramatically improve health and human performance. Sentinel is another powerful example of these core, intersecting capabilities.
Over time, we believe that remote sensors and home tests will become increasingly common and commoditized, accelerating the amount of data we are able to collect from — and understand about — our own lives. For Sentinel, this means more intelligent algorithms, stronger risk signals, and better patient outcomes. Aided by Sentinel’s nurses and doctors and the patients’ own physicians, Sentinel combines both human and algorithmic input to become even more effective at suggesting courses of action for patients. At its core, Sentinel is in the “sweetspot” for us at PSL in that it has designed a human-assisted, machine learning-driven system that solves real problems for a huge, underserved population.
We see significant opportunity for digital health as a category over the coming years. With a shortage of healthcare professionals — a problem currently being addressed by another great PSL company, NextStep — new solutions will be required to meet the demand. We are especially excited to see “doctor-preneurs” with deep clinical expertise join forces with technical teams to create these next-generation solutions. We are lucky to be in Seattle with not only numerous digital health startups but also impactful bigger players like Providence, UW, Microsoft and Amazon continuing to invest heavily in the space. At PSL, we hope to find and invest in many more companies like this in the future.
In addition to being excited about the Sentinel team and business, Sentinel is one of those rare companies where, if we’re successful, everyone wins; the patient, the physician, the clinic and society at large. We feel privileged to work with this team on this important journey.