K Health raises $132 million to launch AI-powered telemedical pediatric service

New York City-based K Health today closed a $132 million series E funding round led by GGV Capital and Valor Equity Partners, bringing the company’s total raised to date to over $271 million. In conjunction with the round’s closure, K Health launched K for Parents, a program offering parents access to a pediatrician to remotely diagnose and treat children ages 3 to 17.

The demand for triaging technologies like conversational bots has risen sharply as the pandemic reaches frightening new peaks. Millions of patients wait at least two hours to see a health care provider, according to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tech giants like IBM, Facebook, and Microsoft have partnered with governments and private industry to roll out chatbot-based solutions in response, as have a number of startups. Companies like Current Health and Twistle have teamed up with Providence and other health care providers to pilot at-home health-tracking platforms. Even before the pandemic, nine in 10 seniors said they’d prefer to stay in their homes over the next 10 years, highlighting the need for remote health monitoring solutions.

Cofounder Allon Bloch, previously CEO of Wix and Vroom, believes telemedicine could help reduce the often exorbitant costs of regular doctor’s visits in the U.S. K Health’s platform 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 to partnerships with insurance providers like Anthem. The company recently released its telemedical services in Spanish and worked with Louisiana State University to extend free access to doctors for Louisiana residents during the month of April.

There’s fierce 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 just a few. But Bloch 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 4 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 K users can consult for a fee, assuming they live in one of the 49 states where service is available. The doctors review an AI-assisted breakdown of the patient’s symptoms and then diagnose, prescribe, or refer the patient as appropriate.

K Health users can chat with a doctor for $9 per month, $19 for a one-time session, or $29 for three-month unlimited access. Mental health services are also offered, and prescribed medication can be delivered to users for $34 per month.

K sources from a 20-year database of millions of electronic health records (including physician notes and lab results) and billions of “health events” — including nausea, headaches, and vomiting — supplied by Maccabi, Israel’s second-largest health fund, as well as health systems in the U.S. and Mexico. 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.

Bloch, who notes that 26% of children visit urgent care clinics annually, says that K for Parents will provide remote access to pediatricians and allow parents to chat with an AI to show how children like theirs were diagnosed. K for Parents was designed with feedback from hundreds of parents, according to Bloch, with “thoughtful attention to the style of instructional animations.”

K Health recently partnered with Anthem to develop a cobranded version of K, CareSpree, that lets Anthem’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, CareSpree enables users to schedule appointments at participating health care providers and pay a prenegotiated price.

Separately, K Health late last year announced it’ll collaborate with the Mayo Clinic to integrate the health system’s Clinic Data Analytics Platform, which includes clinical decision support tools for Mayo Clinic patients and doctors.

K Health is funded in part by Tel Aviv, Israel-based health maintenance organization (HMO) Maccabi Health and its tech incubation arm, Morris Kahn Institute for Research and Innovation. Profits from the app are reinvested into building K Health’s database, the company says. Additional investors in the latest tranche include LTS Ventures, Atreides Ventures, 14W, Max Ventures, Pico Partners, Marcy Venture Partners, Primary Ventures, and Box Group.

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