New Business: Avnew Health Launches in Snoqualmie, Working to ‘Cut the Fat’ out of Healthcare

Hidden inside Dirt Fish Rally School in leased office space is a new Snoqualmie company, Avnew Health; a healthcare company avnew1hoping to create a new, more cost-effective solution for a big chronic health issue facing Americans – osteoarthritis.

It’s a fairly simple approach: technology produced for the masses, with the goal of keeping osteoarthritis sufferers away from expensive MRI’s and surgeries through practicing proactive exercises at home and approved, in-office physical therapy.

Avnew Health was created by Dr. John Milne and Susan Gillespie, who met while Swedish Hospital in the Issaquah Highlands was being constructed. Susan  was the hospital’s project manager and John, an Swedish emergency doctor and VP of Medical Affairs.

They launched the company in January 2013 with a vision: to create an innovative care delivery model to improve quality and decrease cost – and ‘cut the fat’ out of healthcare.

Osteoarthritis affects 14% of adults over 25. The vicious cycle of the chronic condition is that it causes inactivity, which decreases people’s productivity – personally and on the job. Ironically, movement is most often the treatment for the condition, which means a key to treating it is catching the symptoms early.

Avnew Takes a 5-step Path to Knee Health

  • An individual screens their knee with the Avnew Health iPhone or web-based App – available on their website.
  • For many users with only mild dysfunction, the next step is auto-generated therapy exercises done at home to keep joints healthy.
  • For others with moderate dysfunction, survey results may indicate professional physical therapy is needed.  The app connects them with an Avnew certified physical therapist (PT). Then the app transforms into a physical therapy dashboard to track treatment and results.
  • For about 30% of users surgery is needed, but not your normal full knee replacement. Instead, a robotic assisted, partial knee resurfacing is used. The robot assistance carefully calculates the surgery, transforming a manual, complicated surgery into a success. It also costs less than traditional full knee replacement, with a faster recovery time.  And the kicker?  Those whose employers use the Avnew Health system and end up needing the surgery, do so through Domestic Medical Tourism – meaning they fly to San Francisco (with spouse/partner) for the weekend; stay in a 5 star hotel; and have the surgery performed as an outpatient procedure in the surgery center of a skilled doctor with 700 successful procedures under his belt.
  • No matter what path taken, users end up with restored knee function at less cost to their employer’s health care insurance package and most likely, less out-of-pocket.

How it works in real life | For Real Companies Bottom Lines

39-year old Sally is an avid runner – has been her whole life. She’d dealt with knee twinges for years, but it never stopped her. In November, though, she finished a 14-mile run with knee pain, hardly able to walk up her steps to her house. She consulted a nearby orthopedic surgeon who ordered an MRI, suspecting it was a torn meniscus, which is difficult to diagnosis with out the expensive test.

The results showed a fully intact meniscus, but due to her years of running with a slightly altered gait, she had worn her medial (inside) compartment almost to bone on bone, causing fairly severe osteoarthritis in her knee cartilage. The local surgeon suggested that Sally go to a physical therapist  to analyze and adjust her altered stride and gait.

Sally volunteered to be a test case for Avnew Health’s first training course with their network of physical therapists. Six experienced physical therapists, including three with doctorates, examined her knee. Sally was instructed before hand not to speak of, or even hint at, her previous evaluation with the orthopedic surgeon.

The physical therapists examined Sally and then ran her through the Avnew Health Knee exam. They determined that her medial compartment was breaking down faster than it should and suggested correcting the movement of her ankle and foot, and increasing range of motion in her hip. Kinesthetic tape was applied to initially alleviate the pain, and further physical therapy was recommended.

It was the same diagnosis at vastly different insurance costs. Sally’s diagnosis could have cost $150 with trained physical therapists. Instead it cost over $1500 by seeing the surgeon and having an MRI.  This is the ‘healthcare fat’ Avnew Health is designed to trim – if employers decide to include it in their healthcare package.

Avnew Snoqualmie Pilot Program

Local Snoqualmie physical therapy company, Peak Sports and Spine, is helping right out of the gate by participating as an Avnew certified PT provider and partnering to screen and treat employees and patients involved in the pilot program.

Peak Sports has also gone on site to employers with Avnew to educate, screen and build programs for employers to get their employees moving and taking control of their joint pain.

Director of Program Development (and Snoqualmie resident), Luke Talbott, says things are moving right along for the new company.  Avnew recently signed their first contract with Technical Glass Products, located on Snoqualmie Ridge, and are in the process of finalizing a second contract with a large beverage distributor in the area.

Yes, there’s definitely some interesting things happening in the office space at Dirt Fish Rally School!  Good Luck to Avnew Health as they forge ‘a new path to health’ in an ever-changing healthcare system.

Avnew Health team: Lyndsey Watson, Luke Talbott, John Milne, Eric Radcliffe, Susan Gillespie, and Amber Settle
Avnew Health team: Lyndsey Watson, Luke Talbott, John Milne, Eric Radcliffe, Susan Gillespie, and Amber Settle




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