K Health, a startup that lets patients look up their symptoms and chat with a doctor, closed a $48 million series C round. 14W and Mangrove Capital led the round, with participation from Anthem, Lerer Hippeau and Primary Venture Partners.
The New York-based company is one of several that routes patients through an AI chatbot to help them determine if they need to seek further care. What sets it apart, K Health says, is the large dataset it used at the basis for technology, which not only asks users for their symptoms, but also compares their results to similar patient cases. K Health licensed the data from Isreal-based managed care organization Maccabi, which has 2 billion health events from the past 20 years.
“We took medical charts and labs and were able to create models that really allow the software to have a specific conversation with you about your headache, and what it means when its pulsating or radiating.,” CEO Allon Bloch said. “Our goal is to give you a very good understanding of what it might be based on your experiences.”
For a fee, it also lets users chat with its physicians. The company currently charges $39 per month for unlimited text messages. On its homepage, it markets its services as “digital primary care for less.”
Bloch co-founded the company in 2016. He previously served as CEO and board member for website builder Wix. He also served as a general partner for Jerusalem Venture Partners, a large venture firm in Israel.
K Health has made several recent strides. The company struck a partnership with Anthem last year, putting its tool in the hands of Anthem’s 40 million members. Anthem also made a multi-million-dollar investment in the company, tied to milestones.
Last year, the startup published a peer-reviewed study in Medicine on the effectiveness of its symptom-checker app. The startup looked at anonymized data from users in Maccabi Health Care, comparing the suggestions by its app to the doctor’s final diagnoses. Out of 1,085 cases, the app was correct 82.4% of the time.
Bloch said the company is on the verge of crossing 3 million users for the free symptom-checker app. He added that the company’s premium offering — which lets users connect to doctors — is also growing quickly.
K Health is starting with acute care services, but Bloch hopes to move into chronic conditions as well. He plans to add pediatrics to the platform this year, and also hopes to translate its services into Spanish.
K Health currently contracts with physicians across the U.S. to offer its medical services. They’re available 12-hours per day, 7 days a week. Bloch said they can treat most acute conditions, and can write prescriptions, though the company does not prescribe opioids or other potentially addictive substances.
“Across the board, our app collects very detailed information, and our doctors feel comfortable treating a lot of complex situations,” Bloch said. “Somebody’s at home at midnight, and they’re not feeling well — their head hurts. There is a small risk of a dangerous condition. That’s why medicine is not easy. Our goal is to collect a lot of information, do the heavy lifting, and allow doctors to decide if they can diagnose and treat somebody remotely.”
When asked about moving into more specialties, Bloch seemed to favor a more cautious approach.
“Everything we do, even if it’s a free app, even if K Health doesn’t diagnose, we want it to be like doctors — we do no harm. Some of these things we need to move slowly with guidance from our own physicians,” he said.
In the longer term, K Health’s goal is to build out its existing dataset to be able to manage the health of large populations.
“What we’re trying to do here is completely change the paradigm of healthcare delivery,” Bloch said.
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