Digital health startup Infermedica today nabbed $10.25 million to further develop its platform for symptom diagnosis. The company, which claims to have performed more than 6 million health checks to date, says it will put the proceeds toward R&D and international expansion in the U.S. and Germany.
The demand for triaging solutions has risen substantially as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. Millions of patients wait at least two hours to see a provider, according to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In response, tech giants including IBM, Facebook, and Microsoft have partnered with governments and private industry to roll out chatbot-based solutions, as have a number of startups. Infermedica launched COVID-19 risk assessment that’s been used by more than 500,000 patients and implemented by 300 organizations, including two national governments.
Wrocław, Poland-based Infermedica, which was founded in 2012 by CEO Piotr Orzechowski, aims to help insurance carriers, telemedical companies, and health systems increase efficiency through virtual symptom checks. Using AI, it guides patients through questionnaires and recommends specialized medical services accordingly, ostensibly achieving 93% accuracy.
There’s reason to be suspicious of claimed accuracy rates that high when companies like Babylon Health, which say their systems can diagnose diseases as well as human physicians can, have come under scrutiny from regulators and clinicians alike. But Infermedica says it’s taken steps to minimize missteps by having staff physicians verify content and extract knowledge from the literature and medical cases in “well-respected publications.” (Infermedica declined to say which publications.) The platform’s CE Class 1-certified, GDPR-compliant symptom checker draws on millions of anonymized health records and recognizes over 1,500 symptoms, 800 conditions, and thousands of supplementary pieces of evidence human-validated over more than 30,000 hours.
Infermedica’s symptom checker supports Facebook Messenger chatbots and voice assistants like the Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa in 17 different languages (and custom languages). Infermedica customers get access to detailed reports and statistics that enable them to monitor engagement, as well as an interface designer they can use to customize logos, fonts, and color palettes to match the appearance of an existing site, app, or telehealth service.
Infermedica also provides a medical triage app — Infermedica Triage — that optimizes patient flow in customer call centers. Patients describe their symptoms to Triage, during which a human operator takes notes and starts asking questions about risk factors, test results, and demographics. Beyond Triage, Infermedica offers an API that lets developers build custom symptom checkers, triage apps, or voice-enabled health assistants with access to symptoms, lab tests, and conditions.
Orzechowski cites statistics from a Network for Excellence in Health Innovation survey that found that 25% of cases can be self-treated or treated through teleconsultation and that proper care can lead to $18 billion in savings per year. In an internal study, Infermedica found that call centers using its triage tools have successfully diverted 18.9% of face-to-face visits to teleconsultations.
Infermedica, whose over 60 business-to-business customers include Allianz Partners, Everyday Health, and Dovera, recently partnered with Microsoft to bolster the latter’s Healthcare Bot service. Healthcare Bot, which enables health care organizations to build and deploy AI-powered assistants, conducts automated triage powered by Infermedica’s technology.
Infermedica’s series A brings its total raised to $15 million and was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital, with participation from existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners, and Dreamit Ventures. In addition to R&D and general growth, Infermedica, which employs over 100 doctors, data scientists, and engineers, plans to invest in clinical decision support analysis including intake collection, differential diagnostics, and lab test interpretation.