As a young cardiologist, Jeffrey Wessler knew most of his time would be spent treating patients with full-blown heart disease. It was a depressing realization.
So he began researching ways to help at-risk people avoid getting sick through lifestyle changes and other interventions, and came up with a new specialty he calls preventative cardiology.
"I wanted to figure out whether we could go from a reactive to proactive state," said Wessler, a cardiology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center and the founder of a digital health company called Heartbeat. "To me, that's really the next wave of where health care is going."
In late 2016, Wessler started Heartbeat with a group of Columbia-trained cardiologists, as well as engineers, data scientists and patient experience specialists. The idea was to open health clinics and attract patients who are at risk of heart disease and other chronic ailments. Heart attacks and strokes are leading causes of death in the U.S., and roughly one in three Americans have high blood pressure.
The Heartbeat team started testing its approach in January of this year with a cohort of more than 2,000 people, and has now opened its clinics to the public. The company has two clinics in New York so far with two more slated to open in the coming months.