RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Emerging from “stealth mode” is the Duke University spin-out, ZealCare.

The Triangle-based startup offers “a personalized, integrative approach to chronic disease care with an initial suite of products targeted at poorly controlled type 2 diabetes and stage 3-5 chronic kidney disease,” according to a statement.

WRAL TechWire profiled ZealCare and the company’s CEO, Maureen O’Connor, a former Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina executive, in a March 2021 story.

The company was also one of 13 startups that are leveraging technology spun out of Duke University during the institution’s 2021 fiscal year.

ZealCare officially spun out of the institution in late 2020, using technology developed by co-founder Dr. Ralph Snyderman.  Along with a team and co-founder Connor Drake, Snyderman researched, validated, and built the model, along with demonstrated the benefits of the approach.

Assisting those with complex chronic conditions

According to the company’s website, some 5% of Americans account for half of our country’s $3.8 trillion in medical spending annually.

“The last mile for improving health and reducing costs is the individual’s behavior changes needed for treatment plans to be effective,” said Snyderman.  “ZealCare has developed an approach to achieve this goal.”

Following the spin-out, Snyderman recruited O’Connor, who became the startup’s CEO.

Prior to joining ZealCare, O’Connor  was president of, a Silicon Valley healthcare technology startup leverages artificial intelligence to detect potential breast cancer early with diagnostic accuracy and precision.  O’Connor told WRAL TechWire in March 2021 that she herself is an investor in ZealCare.  At the time, ZealCare had raised $120,000 and planned to raise as much as $1 million.

“ZealCare is redefining chronic disease management with a focus on the individual’s experience, active engagement, and empowerment. Our human-centric, tech-enabled model supports individuals in making the behavior changes necessary to improve their lives and achieve better health outcomes while lowering cost in the system.”

Startup co-founded by Duke health execs aims to help people with multiple chronic health conditions

New board additions

The company announced its board of directors this week, which includes new additions:

  • Steve Nelson, startup investor and former BCBSNC chairman;
  • Marcus Osborne, former Walmart Health senior vice president; and
  • Christopher O’Connor, MD, Inova Heart and Vascular Institute president.

“We are in the golden era for digital health, however, to be most effective, it needs to be linked to consumer engagement,” said Nelson in a statement.

O’Connor told WRAL TechWire in March 2021 that a large number of people in our society live with multiple chronic health conditions.  “The quality of their life just is not very good, and unfortunately, the way our health care system is set up makes it very, very hard to manage,” O’Connor said in an interview at that time.  “Primary care, which is supposed to be a more holistic provider of care, they’re very crunched for time, and as a result, we’ve got so many people who are living with these conditions, and aren’t very happy with their care.”

The startup is emerging from stealth mode, it noted in a statement, with the goal of empowering individuals with complex chronic diseases to “live the life they want.”