Berlin-based company Ada Health, which developed a doctor-style app that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose symptoms, was supported by the investment arms of South Korean company Samsung and German pharmaceutical giant Bayer.
Ada Health announced Thursday that it has initiated a $ 90 million round of funding with an undisclosed valuation that brings the total investment in the company to approximately $ 150 million.
Bayer led the round through its Leaps by Bayer investment arm, while Samsung invested through the Samsung Catalyst Fund, a US-based venture capital fund that Samsung Electronics uses to support companies worldwide. Young Sohn, former chief strategy officer and corporate president of Samsung Electronics, has joined the board of directors of Ada Health.
Ada Health was founded in 2011 by entrepreneurs Dr. Claire Novorol, Martin Hirsch and Daniel Nathrath and states that the app has been downloaded over 11 million times.
How it works
“The app works basically like a WhatsApp chat with your trusted family doctor, but around the clock,” CEO Nathrath told CNBC.
The patient starts typing in their symptoms and an AI chat bot asks a series of questions to help pinpoint the problem. After that, the app will show the patient the conditions that are most likely the cause and offer some suggestions on what to do next to fix the problem.
The iOS and Android apps provide general information on how to see a family doctor in the next three days. However, when patients interact with Ada Health through a healthcare system that uses the app, they can book an appointment directly and share the result of their preliminary exam with a real doctor, Nathrath said.
He said the company has signed contracts with multiple health systems, health insurers, and life science companies. Axa OneHealth, Novartis, Pfizer and SutterHealth are listed as partners on the Ada Health website.
While the app can be downloaded free of charge for patients, Ada Health charges its partners for access to the software.
The company said the new funds will be used to expand deeper into the US, which is already the largest market with 2 million users. Elsewhere, Ada Health has around 4 million users in the UK, Germany, Brazil and India with around 1 million each.
The funds will also be used to improve the company’s algorithms, expand the medical knowledge base, and go beyond 10 languages, Nathrath said.
He also wants to provide the Ada Health app with additional information beyond the symptom data provided by the patient. That could include lab data, genetic testing, and sensor data, Nathrath said.
“Smartwatches and other sensors have really made a big leap forward,” said Nathrath. “Nowadays you can measure your blood pressure, do an EKG, measure heart rate variability and blood oxygen levels.”
“Our goal is really to develop what is known as a personal operating system for health, in which you can not only carry out a symptom check, but also integrate all relevant sources of health information in such a way that Ada can ideally become this companion and notify you before the pound 100 problem is becoming a pound 100,000 problem a year. “
U-turn on tele health
Ada Health received less money than other “doctor” apps like Babylon and Kry.
Unlike Babylon and Kry, Ada Health does not allow patients to video call a family doctor.
Ada briefly ran a service called Doctor Chat, which allowed users to consult a registered GP through an on-demand chat portal. However, it was deactivated in March 2018 after having lived for about a year.
“We expected a lot more people to actually use this than they did,” said Nathrath, adding that people would prefer the automated chat experience to video calling with family doctors.
“If you look at telemedicine, you can’t scale it as well as an AI solution because you still have to hire a lot of doctors in different countries,” said Nathrath.
The investment in Ada Health comes just over two weeks after British healthcare start-up Huma raised $ 130 million from the venture arms of Bayer, Samsung and Hitachi.
Other investors in the last round of Ada Health are Vitruvian Ventures, Inteligo Bank, F4 and Mutschler Ventures.