Houston company bringing AI to health care raises $11.9M from Intel, other VC funds
A Houston company helping diagnose patients with machine learning and artificial intelligence has raised $11.9 million in Series A venture capital financing.
Medical Informatics Corp. said Tuesday that Intel Capital and TMC Ventures, the investment arms of Intel Corp. and the Texas Medical Center, respectively, contributed to their fundraising that will allow the company to enter more hospitals and develop its AI for new clinical uses.
“This investment has really accelerated out ability to work across the country,” Emma Fauss, co-founder and CEO of Medical Informatics, told the Chronicle.
The company’s FDA-cleared product, Sickbay, is tackling two industry challenges. The first is collecting data.
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Currently, physicians working in a critical care unit must be physically in a patient’s room to examine data on the monitoring devices, which can include a heart monitor, ventilator or intracranial pressure monitor.
Sickbay, however, allows physicians to access real-time data on their phone, tablet or PC. It can also provide access to years of historic data on the patient, a departure from monitoring devices that typically store data for no more than 72 hours.
These traditional monitors aren’t connected to anything but the patient, so they don’t have anywhere to send or store such massive amounts of information.
The second challenge is using data to detect symptoms faster than what could be diagnosed through observation.
Sickbay, for instance, is used at Texas Children’s Hospital in a department that treats babies born with one ventricle in their heart. The body needs two ventricles because the right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs and the left ventricle pumps blood to the body’s circulation system.
These babies must undergo a series of surgeries to reroute how blood flows through the body. And there’s a higher chance of heart issues such as cardiac arrest between the first and second surgery.
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“They can deteriorate very quickly without any warning,” Fauss said.
So Medical Informatics developed an algorithm that taught a computer to recognize patterns in heart rate, breathing and blood oxygen levels that occur before such heart issues. Fauss said it can detect heart problems one to two hours before a physician might observe the symptoms.
The company’s $11.9 million venture capital raise was led by Data Collective Venture Capital, with offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco. And Medical Informatics was among 14 companies to receive a combined $117 million from Intel.
Fauss said Intel’s focus on security was a major reason for partnering with the company. Intel can help ensure that Medical Informatics has strong cybersecurity and digital security protections.
She added that the data Medical Informatics uses is primarily managed by the hospitals and secured by the same procedures those hospitals use to protect other medical information.