K Health raises $45 million to apply AI to telemedicine
Approximately 87% of all Americans are covered by some form of health insurance, but that’s not to suggest they don’t spend an exorbitant amount on regular doctor’s appointments. The average charge for patients with problems requiring comprehensive evaluations is $234, according to the Healthcare Blue Book, which doesn’t account for transportation to the office and other incurred treatment expenses. That’s no doubt why some patients choose not to show up for their checkups, a phenomenon that costs the health care industry an estimated $150 billion annually.
Allon Bloch, previously CEO of Wix and Vroom, believes the key to reducing costs might lie in telemedicine. Four years ago, he cofounded K Health, a Tel Aviv-based startup with a platform that ingests medical histories, clinical outcomes, and the experience of more than 10,000 doctors to deliver treatment information on hundreds of diseases.
In recent years, K Health has expanded substantially, thanks in part to partnerships with insurance providers like Anthem. To lay runway for further growth, it this week closed a $45 million series C financing round led by Anthem, 14W, Mangrove Capital, Lerer Hippeau, Primary Ventures, and others, bringing its total raised to $97 million following corporate rounds totaling just over $15 million.
Bloch says the funding will enable K Health to release its telemedical services in Spanish as the company “scales its model to move tech-enabled primary care to mobile devices.”
There’s a wealth of competition in the budding telemedicine market, which some analysts estimate could be worth $29.6 billion by 2022 — Doctor on Demand, HealthTap, PlushCare, Teladoc, and American Well are all competing for a slice of the pie, to name a few. But Block asserts that K Health’s AI-driven approach, combined with its proprietary medical knowledge database, gives it a leg up.
K Health’s smartphone app, K — which Bloch claims has more than 1.3 million members, growing at a rate of 10,000 to 15,000 new users a day — facilitates in-app visits from a roster of doctors with whom K users consult for a fee, assuming they live in one of the U.S. states where service is available. The said doctors review an AI-assisted triage of the patient’s symptoms, and then they diagnose, prescribe, or refer the patient as appropriate.
K sources from a database of millions of electronic health records and billions of “health events” — maladies like nausea, headaches, and vomiting — supplied by Maccabi, Israel’s second-largest health fund. Users start by downloading an app for iOS or Android and answering roughly 20 questions about their age, gender, body mass index, health history, and symptoms. A machine learning-powered backend uses the responses to build a private profile, which it compares to insights gleaned from a corpus of over 400 million clinical notes and charts.
The results page shows a list of outcomes experienced by people in similar health circumstances, along with a percentage indicating the likelihood of each diagnosis. Reports and profiles can be shared with clinicians via a HIPAA-compliant messaging feature ahead of telemedical or in-person appointments, if users so choose.
K Health recently partnered with Anthem to develop a cobranded version of K — CareSpree — that lets the carrier’s over 40 million members chat with a doctor for “less than a copay.” For in-person doctor visits, magnetic-resonance-imaging scans, and X-rays, the CareSpree enables users to schedule appointments at participating health care providers and pay a pre-negotiated price.
K Health is funded in part by Maccabi and Morris Kahn Institute for Research and Innovation, the tech incubation arm of Tel Aviv, Israel-based health maintenance organization (HMO) Maccabi Health. Profits from the app are reinvested into K Health’s database.
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