Nabla CEO Alex Lebrun on the company's new funding round and its future

Steven Loeb · January 12, 2024 · Short URL:

The company recently raised $24 million, bringing its total funding to $43 million

In 2022, 46% of health workers reported feeling burned out often or very often, up from 32% in 2018. A a result, 42% of clinicians are actively considering leaving the healthcare industry.

One cause of this problem is administrative work, which takes time away from delivering quality patient care. In fact, for every hour spent with patients, physicians spend two hours on administrative work. Clinicians have also said that managing the electronic health record (EHR) is their biggest stressor with clinical documentation adding six hours per week of EHR work for practitioners.

To help cut down on some of this work, Nabla has developed an ambient AI assistant for practitioners: its product, Copilot, alleviates the admin burden for clinicians and enables them to provide dedicated care for patients.

Last week the company announced the initial close of a $24 million Series B funding round led by Cathay Innovation, with participation from ZEBOX Ventures, as well ass CMA CGM Group Chairman and CEO Rodolphe Saadé, tech entrepreneur Xavier Niel, Tony Fadell, co-creator of the iPod and iPhone, as well as Rachel Delacour, CEO & Co-founder at Sweep, among others. This round brings its total raised to $43 million.

The company, which launched ten months ago, has een three million consultations conducted through Nabla Copilot annually, and more than 20,000 providers have adopted the ambient AI assistant, providing enthusiastic reviews that reflect its impact.

Alex Lebrun, co-founder and CEO of Nabla, spoke to VatorNews about why EHRs cause so much stress, how Copilot helps alleviate this, and what's next for the company. 

VatorNews: Why do electronic health records make life more stressful for physicians rather than better? What could they do better?

Alex Lebrun: While EHRs are critical to patient care coordination and have been key in the transition to healthcare digitization, they have unfortunately fallen short of physicians' expectations. Usability complexity has led physicians to spend more time on the EHR than patient care. According to a study from JAMIA, for every eight hours that office-based physicians have scheduled with patients, they spend more than five hours in the EHR. Challenges include data entry, interoperability, and cluttered visual display, among others. By developing the features that respond to physician time challenges, need for simplicity, and desire to streamline non-clinical tasks, EHRs can become a better ally to clinicians. 

VN: How does your AI assistant help them overcome some of those barriers? What tasks are you taking away that allow them to be better at their jobs?

AL: Nabla Copilot generates clinical notes in seconds. Instead of having to type notes during consultations, clinicians can rely on Nabla Copilot to transcribe the entire encounter and generate an accurate clinical note that is directly integrated into the EHR. This allows providers to be entirely focused on patient care and to save an average of 2 hours per day which are usually spent on documentation. Benefits include reduced cognitive load from clerical burdens, less stress, and feelings of burnout. 

Nabla Copilot also automates the generation of patient instructions and referral letters for example. We are also working on medical coding recognition to streamline the reimbursement process. 

VN: Walk me through some typical use cases for Nabla and how physicians interact with it.

AL: Nabla Copilot works across specialties for in-person visits, telehealth, and phone consultations. Clinicians can either access Nabla Copilot through a desktop and mobile web app or a chrome extension. Once open, and after a quick registration process, clinicians simply click “start the consultation,” and Copilot will begin transcribing the encounter. In the end, it will generate a clinical note in about 20 seconds and provide clinicians with multiple options, available as the following features: add or delete sections, dictate content to be included, hide sections, etc. More sophisticated features include ambient dot phrases, a shortcut to automatically populate a section with pre-set content by the clinicians when mentioning a specific phrase during the consultation, or magic edit, to re-generate the note following custom instructions. 

Clinicians use Nabla Copilot to focus entirely on their patients instead of typing, provide empathetic care, save time on administrative tasks, achieve a better work-life balance, and ultimately feel more fulfilled at work, preventing burnout. 

VN: What kind of ROI have you been able to calculate? Do you have hard numbers you can share?

AL: There are studies that show that the median daily time spent by physicians on the EHR ranges from 3.5 to 6 hours. Consider a family physician that spends 4 hours on the EHR daily, and who’s paid about $100 an hour. On average, clinicians using Nabla Copilot report saving 2 hours/day. Nabla Copilot could save $200 per day of clinician time spent on documentation time instead of providing care. With a $119/month pricing for unlimited consultations, the ROI is immediate. 

VN: Do you typically sell to hospitals and healthcare groups or individual physicians? How many physicians are now using Nabla? 

AL: We have the capacity to cater to the unique needs of both small practices and large health systems with 10,000+ clinicians. Individual physicians can start using Nabla Copilot for free through a readily accessible web app, mobile app, and Chrome extension. Beyond 30 consultations/month, they can purchase a subscription for unlimited consultations. Our product-led growth, which relies on word of mouth, has led to individual users becoming our best ambassadors, pushing for organization-wide implementation in bigger health structures and making the adoption of Nabla Copilot a matter of weeks. Today, 20,000+ clinicians are using Nabla Copilot. 

VN: Which additional languages will you be adding and why those in particular?

AL: We are planning on including Mandarin, Russian and Arabic. It’s a mix of the languages most spoken in the US, as well as worldwide. 

VN: What is your ultimate goal with Nabla? What will success look like for you?

AL: To become the ambient AI assistant of reference for millions of healthcare professionals across the US and the world, assisting clinicians on a variety of tasks across the clinical spectrum, ultimately until diagnosis. With that, achieving our mission to bring back the joy of practicing medicine to clinicians and patients enjoying better healthcare.

VN: Is there anything else I should know about the company or the new funding round?

AL: We are currently raising a 2nd tranche of about $10 million to include healthcare-specialized investment funds, expected to close at the end of February. 

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