Healthcare AI Startup Phelix.ai Raises $1M for Medical Virtual Assistant
Healthcare AI developer Phelix.ai has closed a $1 million seed round of funding led by Well Health Technologies. Phelix’s technology is used to run virtual assistants that can handle making appointments, filling out paperwork, and other administrative tasks on behalf of healthcare providers.
Toronto-based Phelix.ai essentially provides a virtual assistant for clinics and other healthcare providers. The AI can run a virtual call center, engaging with patients through online chatbots, phone calls, text messages, and even faxes to answer questions, arrange appointments, and bill patients as needed. According to Phelix, up to three-quarters of the time taken up by paperwork and administrative tasks can be reclaimed by doctors using its technology. Well Health accounts for a quarter of the $1 million investment, although the startup has not revealed who else contributed. As part of the deal, Well Health can now also use and sublicense Phelix.ai’s technology in other areas of its business.
“We’re thrilled to receive an investment from WELL and are thoroughly impressed with WELL’s vision and commitment to digital health in Canada,” Phelix.ai CEO Hassaan Ahmed said in a statement. “We look forward to being a part of WELL’s expanding portfolio of OSCAR compatible apps that are designed to better connect and make doctors’ practices more efficient.”
Phelix.ai is one of many healthcare AI providers seeing an uptick in interest and investment during the current COVID-19 health crisis. Reducing the time that doctors and other healthcare providers spend on non-patient time is especially important right now. That’s part of why Phelix.ai launched a COVID-19-specific tool for helping healthcare centers triage potential cases and follow up for contact tracing. The tool is also being used to organize surgical backlogs resulting from the spread of COVID-19.
AI is not always going to be as accurate as humans in transcription and other tasks, but the need for it is accelerating the number and quality of such tools. Amazon came out in December with Amazon Transcribe Medical, an automated transcription service for medical professionals, while Nuance and Microsoft have partnered to upgrade and merge Nuance’s Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant with Microsoft’s Azure platform. Other startups offering related services to medical professionals are also on the rise. Speech recognition technology startup Deepgram even donated $1 million worth of its automatic speech transcription and analysis platform to assist medical providers during the current crisis. The list includes medical voice assistant developer Saykara, which has raised $9 million from investors and Suki, which has channeled $40 million in funding to integrate into broader products as well as providing a standalone product. Most recently, amid a surge of COVID-19-related use, Orbita raised $9 million for its healthcare AI.