Investors are betting that the health care industry will increasingly adopt artificial intelligence to improve patient care.
Venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz has led a $10.5 million investment in the startup Memora Health, the two firms announced on Tuesday. Other participating investors include venture fund AlleyCorp, Martin Ventures, Operator Partners, and Thirty Five Ventures, the venture fund of NBA star Kevin Durant and his manager, Rich Kleiman.
Memora Health specializes in machine learning that analyzes health care data so that doctors can better care for patients after their visits and hospital stays, said the startup’s cofounder and CEO, Manav Sevak.
Memora Health’s software would help doctors send specific messages tailored to mothers who have been recently discharged from the hospital after giving birth, for instance. These messages, often sent via text, could include surveys that screen for postpartum depression or provide information about what to expect from their newborns in the coming weeks.
The idea is that health care providers can proactively send relevant information to patients who may have otherwise searched for information online or relied on word of mouth, Sevak said. Patients must opt in to receive the messages, and the startup’s platform is compliant with federal medical HIPAA rules for patient privacy, he added.
Memora Health is an example of a growing trend in health care–focused startups using A.I. to help streamline patient care that can often overwhelm time-crunched physicians. The startup Ada, for instance, built a chatbot that people can use to ask about symptoms they are experiencing.
Andreessen Horowitz partner Dr. Vineeta Agarwala, who joined Memora’s board as part of the latest funding round, explained that Memora is attempting to help patients receive better care from their health care providers. Often, patients leave hospitals feeling disconnected from their physicians.
“I could have had a stroke, and no one knows,” Agarwala said.
She said that Memora Health stood out because it had already attracted some notable customers—Mayo Clinic, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Banner Health among them—and had developed a product that doctors actually used. Many health care startups create products that use interesting technology, but that don’t actually help physicians do their jobs better.
Because it relies so much on health care data, or electronic health records, to power its software, Memora Health could compete in the future against health record giants like Epic Systems. But that’s only if those companies build similar analytic software to accompany their database services.
Agarwala dismissed that concern, however.
“These digital records companies are just no longer the most innovative companies,” she said.
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