Docquity, a community for healthcare professionals, raises $44M Series C

A call between doctors can save lives. That’s what Docquity co-founder Indranil Roychowdhury learned when his father was hospitalized with a life-threatening condition in India. An emergency room doctor initially told him that there was no chance of survival, but then another doctor called one of his peers in the United States, and they came up with an alternative treatment plan that worked. Docquity was created to help doctors collaborate in the same way, at scale, even if they live in different countries.

The Singapore-based company announced today it has raised $44 million in Series C funding led by returning investors Itochu Corporation, which put in $32 million. The rest of the round came from investors including iGlobe Partners, Alkemi, Global Brain, KDV and Infocom.

Roychowdhury told TechCrunch that after his father’s experience, he and his co-founders, Amit Vithal and Abhisek Wadhwa, wondered why “in today’s day of social media, it took a phone call to save someone’s life.” Docquity was founded in 2015 so doctors and other healthcare professionals have an easier way of working with one another.

The new capital brings Docquity’s total raised to $57.5 million. It says it is the largest community of healthcare professionals in Southeast Asia, with more than 350,000 doctors on board. The funding will be used to grow Docquity in its existing markets, like Indonesia and the Philippines, and enter new ones, including Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It recently launched in Taiwan, where more than 2,000 doctors have signed up so far. The company claimed two-fold revenue growth in 2021.

The company now has a team of 300 people and aside from its Singapore headquarters, also has a tech and engineering hub in Gurgoan, India, and other offices in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.

In addition to giving doctors tools to connect and collaborate, Docquity has partnered with more than 250 medical associations in Southeast Asia to develop learning modules, which can be used to earn compulsory continuing medical education (CME) credits. The company says that so far, its platform has enabled doctors to earn a total of 4.2 million CME credits.

Docquity has three core features. The first, Docquity Academy, partners with universities and senior medical practitioners to create learning tools for doctors. The second, Docquity Clinic, allows doctors to have follow-up consultations with their patients. Finally, Docquity Insights takes data about user engagement on the platform to understand what they need.

Roychowdhury said that on average, about 50,000 doctors take courses on its platform every month, and that it was one of the first companies to launch online lectures and symposiums when the pandemic started in 2020. It now hosts about 500 lectures a month. Doctors taking the courses can also join private groups to discuss real world cases and the best treatment plans.

“While teaching and exam-style education is a key component, we believe that experiential learning through case discussions among peers in a major learning source for doctors,” said Roychowdhury.

Docquity ensures patient privacy through several measures. It’s a closed, GDPR and HIPAA-compliant network that only allows in doctors verified by medical associations. It has also set up internal compliance and pharma co-vigilance team to ensure privacy and security. It lets pharmaceutical and medical device companies to engage with doctors, but no advertisements are allowed on the platform.

Another Docquity initiative is making healthcare more affordable. It recently launched its Patient Adherence Program (PAP) to help doctors bring care to underserved patients. “Making treatments more affordable is a key objective of the platform and we have started working in breast cancer as a therapeutic area with one of our clients, and have already served close to 600 breast cancer patients in the Philippines,” said Roychowdhury.

Carepatron is passionate about helping solo practitioners and small healthcare practices

The founders of New Zealand-based Carepatron, a healthcare platform used by providers and patients, say they are passionate about solo practitioners and small health teams. With that in mind, they built Carepatron, which helps reduce the amount of administrative work that practices need to perform and also automatically reminds patients about appointments to reduce no-shows.

The company announced today it has raised $1.6 million NZD (about $980,000 USD) in pre-seed funding led by Blackbird. The funding will be used to hire for Carepatron’s global team and on product and growth. It has clients in 30 countries, including the United States, and markets in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Carepatron is used by practices ranging from a solo practitioner to teams of about 100. It says its clients save about eight hours of administrative work each week by helping them manage tasks like booking, rescheduling appointments, responding to emails and generating bills. It is now used by 700 health teams, with about two-thirds of its clients based in North America and Asia. More than half of Carepatron’s usage is on mobile devices.

Carepatron was founded in 2021 by David Pene and Jamie Frew. Both were inspired by their life experiences. Frew helped his family with their community hospital as a kid, while Pene’s partner is a doctor who works with small teams and practices.

Frew, Carepatron’s CEO, told TechCrunch that “David and I were frustrated by the lack of progress and innovation across the healthcare software sector, as we had personally seen the impact of poor tools on our partner’s mental health and medical practices. We bring everyone together in an ultra-secure app with the tools and information they need to achieve better health outcomes.”

The platform’s core products are scheduling and workflow, client records and documentation, and billing and payments. Frew says it can reduce costs by 74% for its clients by reducing the range of software subscriptions and tools they require from nine to two.

“Because we are community-driven, we can massively reduce the cost of our platform with an average subscription of $12 month per patient,” he said. He added that even though Carepatron is in its early stages, it is already generating revenue and has been growing its customer base consistently since launch.

The platform reduces patient no-shows through tools like scheduling automation, including smart reminders, online rescheduling and built-in video options.

In a prepared statement, Blackbird principal Phoebe Harrop said, “By allowing people to access the experts they need, Carepatron reduces the frictions associated with getting timely care. We are really excited to support Jamie and David on their journey to supercharge hundreds of thousands of health professionals around the world with lovable practice management software.”

Bot MD, an AI-based chatbot for doctors, raises $5 million for expansion into more Asian markets

Time is critical for healthcare providers, especially in the middle of the pandemic. Singapore-based Bot MD helps save time with an AI-based chatbot that lets doctors look up important information from their smartphones, instead of needing to call a hospital operator or access its intranet. The startup announced today it has raised a $5 million Series A led by Monk’s Hill Venture.

Other backers include SeaX, XA Network and SG Innovate, and angel investors Yoh-Chie Lu, Jean-Luc Butel and Steve Blank. Bot MD was also part of Y Combinator’s summer 2018 batch.

The funding will be used to expand in the Asia-Pacific region, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, and to add new features in response to demand from hospitals and healthcare organizations during COVID-19. Bot MD’s AI assistant currently supports English, with plans to release Bahasa Indonesian and Spanish later this year. It is currently used by about 13,000 doctors at organizations including Changi General Hospital, National University Health System, National University Cancer Institute of Singapore, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, Parkway Radiology and the National Kidney Transplant Institute.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Dorothea Koh told TechCrunch that Bot MD integrates hospital information usually stored in multiple systems and makes it easier to access.A smartphone with Bot MDs medical AI assistant for doctors displayed on it

Image Credits: Bot MDWithout Bot MD, doctors may need to dial a hospital operator to find which staffers are on call and get their contact information. If they want drug information, that means another call to the pharmacy. If they need to see updated guidelines and clinical protocols, that often entails finding a computer that is connected to the hospital’s intranet.

“A lot of what Bot MD does is to integrate the content that they need into a single interface that is searchable 24/7,” said Koh.

For example, during COVID-19, Bot MD introduced a new feature that takes healthcare providers to a form pre-filled with their information when they type “record temperature” into the chatbot. Many were accessing their organization’s intranet twice a day to log their temperature and Koh said being able to use the form through Bot MD has significantly improved compliance.

The time it takes to onboard Bot MD varies depending on the information systems and amount of content it needs to integrate, but Koh said its proprietary natural language processing chat engine makes training its AI relatively quick. For example, Changi General Hospital, a recent client, was onboarded in less than 10 days.

Bot MD plans to add new clinical apps to its platform, including ones for electronic medical records (EMR), billing and scheduling integrations, clinical alerts and chronic disease monitoring.

Amazon debuts automatic speech recognition service, Amazon Transcribe Medical

Amazon is expanding its automatic transcription service for AWS, Amazon Transcribe, to include support for medical speech, the company announced this morning at its AWS Re:Invent conference. The new machine-learning powered service, Amazon Transcribe Medical, will allow physicians to quickly dictate their clinical notes and speech into accurate text in real-time, without any human intervention, Amazon claims.

Unlike some services, the physicians won’t have to say things like “comma” or “full stop,” but can speak normally during the dictation process. The text can then be fed to downstream systems including ER systems or AWS language services, like Amazon Comprehend Medical for entity extraction.

The service is also HIPAA compliant and scales with the users’ needs, meaning you’ll only pay for what you actually use and without upfront fees, notes Amazon.

From a technical perspective, the service works as follows.

You first capture audio through a device’s microphone, then send PCM audio to a streaming API, based on the Websocket protocol. The API responds with a series of JSON blobs wit the transcribed text, plus word-level time stamps and punctuation. This can also be optionally saved to an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket.

Amazon Transcribe Medical, which builds on 2017’s debut of Amazon Transcribe, arrives at a time when Amazon is increasing its investments in the medical space — particularly in terms of the intersection of voice technology with medicine. Last week, for example, Amazon launched a medication management service for Alexa which allows consumers to make voice requests for refills and get medication reminders.

The company has also made it possible for Alexa voice apps to be HIPAA compliant, acquired health startups like PillPack and Health Navigator, launched its own healthcare service for employees, Amazon Health, and has been piloting the use of Alexa in a hospital environment.

Amazon is not alone in working with speech recognition in the healthcare space — this is an area Google is working in as well, with Google Brain, plus Microsoft, established players like Nuance and Philips, and a wide range of startups. 

Amazon Transcribe Medical is initially available in the U.S. East (North Virginia) and U.S. West (Oregon) regions.

K Health raises $25m for its AI-powered primary care platform

K Health, the startup providing consumers with an AI-powered primary care platform, has raised $25 million in series B funding. The round was led by 14W, Comcast Ventures and Mangrove Capital Partners, with participation from Lerer Hippeau, Primary Ventures, BoxGroup, Bessemer Venture Partners and Max Ventures – all previous investors from the company’s seed or Series A rounds.

Co-founded and led by former Vroom CEO and Wix co-CEO, Allon Bloch, K Health (previously Kang Health) looks to equip consumers with a free and easy-to-use application that can provide accurate, personalized, data-driven information about their symptoms and health.

“When your child says their head hurts, you can play doctor for the first two questions or so – where does it hurt? How does it hurt?” Bloch explained in a conversation with TechCrunch. “Then it gets complex really quickly. Are they nauseous or vomiting? Did anything unusual happen? Did you come back from a trip somewhere? Doctors then use differential diagnosis to prove that it’s a tension headache vs other things by ruling out a whole list of chronic or unusual conditions based on their deep knowledge sets.”

K Health’s platform, which currently focuses on primary care, effectively looks to perform a simulation and data-driven version of the differential diagnosis process. On the company’s free mobile app, users spend three-to-four minutes answering an average of 21 questions about their background and the symptoms they’re experiencing.

Using a data set of two billion historical health events over the past 20 years – compiled from doctors notes, lab results, hospitalizations, drug statistics and outcome data – K Health is able to compare users to those with similar symptoms and medical histories before zeroing in on a diagnosis. 

With its expansive comparative approach, the platform hopes to offer vastly more thorough, precise and user-specific diagnostic information relative to existing consumer alternatives, like WebMD or – what Bloch calls – “Dr. Google”, which often produce broad, downright frightening, and inaccurate diagnoses. 

Ease and efficiency for both consumers and physicians

Users are able to see cases and diagnoses that had symptoms similar to their own, with K Health notifying users with serious conditions when to consider seeking immediate care. (K Health Press Image / K Health /

In addition to pure peace of mind, the utility provided to consumers is clear. With more accurate at-home diagnostic information, users are able to make better preventative health decisions, avoid costly and unnecessary trips to in-person care centers or appointments with telehealth providers, and engage in constructive conversations with physicians when they do opt for in-person consultations.

K Health isn’t looking to replace doctors, and in fact, believes its platform can unlock tremendous value for physicians and the broader healthcare system by enabling better resource allocation. 

Without access to quality, personalized medical information at home, many defer to in-person doctor visits even when it may not be necessary. And with around one primary care physician per 1000 in the US, primary care practitioners are subsequently faced with an overwhelming number of patients and are unable to focus on more complex cases that may require more time and resources. The high volume of patients also forces physicians to allocate budgets for support staff to help interact with patients, collect initial background information and perform less-demanding tasks.

K Health believes that by providing an accurate alternative for those with lighter or more trivial symptoms, it can help lower unnecessary in-person visits, reduce costs for practices and allow physicians to focus on complicated, rare or resource-intensive cases where their expertise can be most useful and where brute machine processing power is less valuable.

The startup is looking to enhance the platform’s symbiotic patient-doctor benefits further in early-2019, when it plans to launch in-app capabilities that allow users to share their AI-driven health conversations directly with physicians, hopefully reducing time spent on information gathering and enabling more-informed treatment.

With K Health’s AI and machine learning capabilities, the platform also gets smarter with every conversation as it captures more outcomes, hopefully enriching the system and becoming more valuable to all parties over time. Initial results seem promising with K Health currently boasting around 500,000 users, most having joined since this past July.

Using access and affordability to improve global health outcomes

With the latest round, the company has raised a total of $37.5 million since its late-2016 founding. K Health plans to use the capital to ramp up marketing efforts, further refine its product and technology, and perform additional research to identify methods for earlier detection and areas outside of primary care where the platform may be valuable.

Longer term, the platform has much broader aspirations of driving better health outcomes, normalizing better preventative health behavior, and creating more efficient and affordable global healthcare systems.

The high costs of the American healthcare system and the impacts they have on health behavior has been well-documented. With heavy copays, premiums and treatment cost, many avoid primary care altogether or opt for more reactionary treatment, leading to worse health outcomes overall.

Issues seen in the American healthcare system are also observable in many emerging market countries with less medical infrastructure. According to the World Health Organization, the international standard for the number of citizens per primary care physician is one for every 1,500 to 2,000 people, with some countries facing much steeper gaps – such as China, where there is only one primary care doctor for every 6,666.

The startup hopes it can help limit the immense costs associated with emerging countries educating millions of doctors for eight-to-ten years and help provide more efficient and accessible healthcare systems much more quickly.

By reducing primary care costs for consumers and operating costs for medical practices, while creating a more convenient diagnostic experience, K Health believes it can improve access to information, ultimately driving earlier detection and better health outcomes for consumers everywhere.