Columbia-based Vheda Health helps self-funded employers and health insurance plans manage high-cost chronic populations by turning smartphones into digital health monitors.

The company’s Vheda Health application automates care plan adherence tracking by combining remote monitoring via biometric sensors with weekly video visits with a Vheda care team. Its use is customized to address patients with Type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure and weight management concerns.

Co-Founders Shameet Luhar and Philip Rub envisioned their startup after health insurance benefits provider WellPoint acquired their employer, the data analytics-driven personal health care guidance company Resolution Health, in 2008.

“We learned the ins and outs of a disease management system, but realized the company was not taking advantage of modern technology to provide disease management services to its costliest members,” Luhar said. “They were still using snail mail and telephone calls to interact.”

Vheda Health launched just more than 18 months ago and has since grown from two employees to 13, including seven full-time staff members in the United States and six software developers overseas.

“Our value proposition is that our mobile intervention can decrease hospitalizations and emergency room visits by more than 60%, saving an average of $15,000 per hospitalization,” Luhar said.

The application works by enabling the remote monitoring of biometric data and the interventions of health coaches and nurses who send push notifications to remind patients to check their blood sugar. Users also input data regarding weight and completion of their prescribed exercise regimen.

“We were self-funded through September, when we opened up a seed round that raised nearly $1 million,” Luhar said.

This year, Vheda Health received funding from the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) to assist with technology and commercialization efforts and emerged as the winner of Startup Maryland’s 2014 Pitch Across Maryland competition.

“We’re also in the final stage of discussions with angel investment groups across the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States regions,” Luhar said.