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The digital solution to chronic pain?

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Joint Academy, a clinical evidence-based digital treatment for chronic joint pain, which connects patients with licensed physical therapists, has raised a US$23 million Series B funding round led by international investment company Kinnevik.

Existing investors Karl-Johan Persson (chairman of H&M) and Alfvén & Didrikson also participated in the round, which will enable Joint Academy to accelerate in the U.S. and to further expand its offering throughout Europe. Joint Academy has to-date raised US$34.2 million.

The steadily increasing prevalence of chronic joint pain worldwide poses a challenge for healthcare systems, with prevention and effective care being critical in managing ever-growing costs.

According to reports, US$16.5 billion was spent on joint pain (including on total joint replacements, arthroscopies, injections and medication) in 2013, making it the second most costly health condition treated within US hospitals.

By shifting towards individual and evidence-based treatments and digital technologies, substantial savings can be made, while quality of care canincrease.

Healthcare institutions using Joint Academy can receive a return on their investment within one year, and canachieve average savings of US$2,223 per year per patient.

A recent peer-reviewed study from Lund University, published in scientific journal PLOS ONE, shows that Joint Academy’s digital first-line treatment, which includes informative lessons and exercises, reduces pain and improves physical function at one quarter of the cost of traditional care.

Since being founded in Malmo, Sweden in 2014, Joint Academy has treated 25,000 patients who suffer from chronic hip and knee pain by connecting them with licensed physical therapists through its app.

Initially, a patient receives an evaluation from one of the 400 physical therapists on the platform who will continuously follow up on the treatment and answer any questions the user may have.

Each day, patients are given personalised exercises that are designed to reduce pain and adjust as the patient’s condition improves. Progress can be tracked from one week to the next, which boosts motivation and improves treatment results, while reminders keep them on-track.

Joint Academy CEO Jakob Dahlberg co-founded the company along with his father and chief medical officer Leif Dahlberg.

Jakob says: “We are excited to have a prominent investor such as Kinnevik on board that shares our mission to improve the ways in which chronic joint pain is treated. Their know-how in the digital health sector will be immensely helpful in reaching our vision to become the global standard treatment for chronic joint pain. The Series B round will help us accelerate in the U.S. and expand our offering throughout Europe.”

Ten peer-reviewed studies and ongoing research show that 85% of patients using Joint Academy reduce their pain, 54% change their minds about surgery, and 42% quit analgesics medication. Joint Academy places an emphasis on evidence-based information, and has conducted significantly more peer-reviewed studies than other companies within the field.

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