Casana: Reinventing Home Health Care Monitoring, One Toilet Seat at a Time

By Mark Ogilbee posted 08-25-2022 10:55 AM

Olivia Lew of Casana

AgeTech Collaborative™ health care startup Casana is devoted to improving patient outcomes and reinventing health care at home — through an innovative, high-tech toilet seat. 

We wanted you to learn more about what Casana does and how they do it, so we spent time talking with Olivia Lew, Casana’s chief operating officer. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Can you tell us about yourself and a little bit about how Casana got started? 

I'm Olivia Lew, and I’m the chief operating officer at Casana. I was actually in the venture capital space for four years, focused on the intersection of software and health care companies. We were looking at the care space for elders —and there's a lot of technology and innovation to support elder care. But it struck us as strange that a lot of companies in that space weren’t gaining traction.  

When we dug in, it became obvious to us that all these companies trying to solve problems for the aging population were creating additional things for people to do. People have to remember to wear this, or charge that — whatever it might be. And when you're managing chronic conditions and a whole list of medications, adding another thing to do is a barrier to adoption. 

So Casana’s vision is to enable health care in the home through effortless monitoring, starting with the Heart Seat, which measures blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygenation. 


You’re talking about Casana’s Heart Seat toilet seat. Can you explain how it works? 

The Heart Seat has EKG electrodes on either side of the seat. It also has a PPG sensor, which is a light that interacts with tissue and measures the volume of oxygen in the thigh. And then we have another sensor called a ballistocardiogram. These three sensors send data up to the cloud, where it goes through our algorithms, which identify the user and calculate the various health parameters. That information then becomes available to your physician. 

Measuring blood pressure is what we plan to go to market with first. That’s regulated by the FDA, so we’re in the process of seeking clearance. There are a lot of devices out there that provide a lot of data to users, but they aren’t integrated into someone’s health care journey as it relates to their physician and care team. We don’t want the Heart Seat to live on its own like that; we want to be integrated into the current health care system. And our goal is to expand beyond this one device — this is just the beginning for us. 


The Heart Seat obviously involves some form of electronics. How do you power it? 

Japan and some other Asian countries have spearheaded a lot of toilet seat innovation that requires a plug. But the Heart Seat doesn’t require any plug; it’s completely self-contained with a battery. We wanted to make it easy so you don’t have to think about it as a user — all you have to do is change the toilet seat once. And that is one of the few things that Americans have standardized! There are basically two sizes, round and elongated, and two bolts in the back and you just screw it in. And that’s our device, just like that. 


You recently raised $30 million in a series B fundraising round. What are your plans for those funds? 

We feel lucky to have the runway to investigate additional health parameters and accelerate that research. For example, we're excited about the possibility that the Heart Seat can measure impedance — which is water retention, and it's an important measure for folks dealing with heart conditions. There's a whole list of other sensors we're looking into that we can add to the seat or provide as a complementary device. So we're looking to use these dollars to accelerate our work in expanding what we can offer. 


What inspired you, personally, to make the professional leap from the investment side to join a startup? 

I loved being an investor. It's an incredible opportunity to support entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they're doing to change the world — you get to help them realize their dream. But as an investor, you don’t get the opportunity to go deep with the product and the market the companies are working on. Now, being on the operating side, I get to see a company unfold and help it grow. That's really exciting to me. 


What has it been like being part of the AgeTech Collaborative™? 

We’ve had a really great experience as part of the Collaborative. When I was on the investment side, I saw companies that didn’t solicit or incorporate feedback from actual users as they were developing their product. They may have understood the problem and thought they had a solution. But without understanding their users, their solution was likely going to be a miss. 

Working with the Collaborative, Casana has had a great opportunity to speak with hundreds of people to get feedback. We focused on questions such as, “How would you like to receive the data? What type of messaging is helpful around this device?” Because of the Collaborative, we were able to get a lot of great feedback as we developed our device. 


Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share? 

We're hiring! We’re really excited to get the Heart Seat to market because we feel that this device can make a big difference for folks who need home monitoring of these parameters. If someone is excited about that and wants to join us, we’re happy to chat. Or even if someone is interested in getting involved in other ways, we have studies that we invite folks to participate in and lots of other ways that we include the community. 


You can learn more about Casana and get in touch with them via their website.