PocketHealth raises $33M so patients can access and understand medical images

Steven Loeb · March 20, 2024 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/5835

The company helps patients understand what their reports say by explaining medical terms

Problems with accessing and sharing diagnostic imaging are nothing new, but even as healthcare has become more technologically advanced, medical images have still been left in a the dark ages, with many of them still being burned onto CDs.

PocketHealth is a company that was born out of the idea of making it easier for patients and care providers to share those images by making them patient-centric and network agnostic.

On Wednesday, the company announced it has raised $33 million USD ($45 million CAD) in a Series B funding round led by Round13 Capital with participation from Deloitte Ventures, Samsung Next, and existing investors Questa Capital and Radical Ventures. This is the first funding PocketHealth has raised since its $16 million round in 2022, and this brings its total funding to over $55.5 million USD ($75 million CAD) to date.

Founded in 2016 by brothers Harsh and Rishi Nayyar, the Toronto-based company gives patients and providers access to an image sharing platform that they can use to securely share medical imaging and diagnostic reports.

With PocketHealth, providers have a secure platform for exchanging diagnostic images with both patients and external providers; PocketHealth customers can instantly share images with anyone, across any network, they or set up a local network of PocketHealth Community Gateways for automated image exchange. 

After a patient gets an image done, the hospital gives them a URL to sign up for a PocketHealth account. PocketHealth is embedded in the hospital’s imaging workflow, so when a patient creates an account, their images are already waiting to be accessed. Patients can share the link to their images with their doctor, or anyone else, directly from their account. The PocketHealth link can be sent by email, or it can be faxed if the doctor doesn’t accept emails from patients. 

In the two years since its last funding round, the platform has evolved to not just show patients their imaging records, but help them understand them as well thanks to the Report Reader, which explains medical terms in the patient’s report, while PocketHealth's MyCare Navigator gives patients relevant, personalized questions to ask their doctor. 

"Now, when you read your report, we explain that report to you in patient friendly language on the platform. We highlight any follow-up recommendations. It autogenerates questions for you to ask your doctor and, depending on what region you're in, you even get access to AI models that can tell you, ‘Hey, we looked at your X-ray and it looks like you have low bone mineral density. You might be at risk of early osteoporosis, maybe go talk to your doctor'," Rishi Nayyar, CEO of PocketHealth, said in an interview. 

"There's really been this big evolution from just, ‘here's your records,’ to, ‘here’s your records, this is what it means and this is what you could do next,’ while always emphasizing, at the same time, the relationship the patient has with their doctor. We're not trying again to the middle of that, obviously."

To facilitate those explanation, PocketHealth works directly with radiologists to create definitions and translations beforehand, which are vetted by the radiologists and the medical community. That means when a patient sees a term like consolidative opacity, for example, they immediately understand that means there's fluid buildup in the lungs.

"That's a concept that has been worked on with a radiologist. We're not using a large language model there. We think that because it’s something that's going to a patient who's actively getting care, there needs to be an additional layer of human intervention before we're translating something for the patient," said Nayyar.

PocketHealth currently has contracts with 775 hospitals and imaging centers across North America, including University Health Network, Southern Illinois Healthcare, UofL Health, Universal Health Services, Radiology Partners. It also has over 1.5 million patients on the platform, with three times as many patients enrolling monthly than this time a year ago.

From a hospital's perspective, what they get with Pockethealth is cost savings because they're able to eliminate CD burning, which is what they have traditionally used to share images. With PocketHealth, they're able to move images around much more efficiently both to patients and then also to other providers. Colorado’s Valley View Hospital, for example, reduced non-labor costs associated with burning CDs by 95% and enabled patient and staff image sharing with out-of-network providers, while Toronto’s Unity Health gained more than $120,000 in annual savings and closed their imaging library.

Meanwhile, on the revenue side, the company has proven that when patients uses Pockethealth, their satisfaction goes up, so the provider is able to help keep patients from using someone else.

"Generally, at the time of implementation, what we're projecting for providers is anywhere from a 200 to 300% ROI in the first year, meaning revenue lift and costs reduction combined over the cost of Pockethealth," Nayyar said. 

For the patient, meanwhile, the company promises fast, easy access to their medical imaging records and the ability to understand it and know what to do next, while also allowing them to share those records with their doctor.

Now that it has this new funding, PocketHealth plays to double its 110 employee workforce over the next two years, while also growing its footprint across the US and Canada, and leveraging AI to personalize the patient’s care journey. Currently, the company currently uses artificial intelligence in applications that include Ask My Doctor, a functionality that gives patients a curated list of questions to ask their doctor that incorporates all the findings from their report.

The company will also be used to continue to evolve how medical images are shared, meaning making them patient-centric and network agnostic.

In terms of being patient-centric, that means that images should flow through the patient, Nayyar said, rather than going from provider to provider, PocketHealth believes the most efficient iworkflow in most cases is provider to patient to provider.

"Patients are the common denominator to everyone in their care, we should be trying to connect every single doctor to every single doctor. We should be trying to push the images to the patient who wants them anyways, who wants the control and wants to know what's happening regardless," he explained. 

Being network agnostic, meanwhile, means changing how image sharing has traditionally worked, which is that you can only share images inside a network; to share images with someone that's outside of the network they need to sign up and become part of that network as well. PocketHealth's platform works more similarly to how file sharing works outside of healthcare, meaning you can just share imaging with anyone without them needing to download anything or create a username or password. They can view images, download them in full diagnostic quality, and import them into their systems.

Ultimately, PocketHealth wants to be in front of every patient at every provider in North America.

"In five years, we can be playing a significant, driving role in helping providers engage more deeply with their patient population, share images effortlessly, and then, from a patient's perspective, the three core pillars are really helping them access, engage, and act. We've spent the first eight years of this business on access and in the last year and a half we really started to build out engage and act," said Nayyar.

"Five years from now, Pockethealth will be a platform where the amount of value we're able to drive for patients, in terms of being able to engage with their reports and images and act on it in a way that keeps their provider in the loop and at the center, it'll be pretty astounding."

(Image source: pockethealth.com)

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