Chakri Toleti, CEO of Care.ai, just raised $27 million for his company’s ambient clinical sensing technology with a bold purpose.
“I want to kill the EMR,” Toleti told Erin over dinner last week at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas, referring to the electronic medical record.
Why it matters: EMRs are error-prone and time-consuming, and are almost universally disliked by clinicians, patients, and founders—a realization that led Toleti to found Care.ai, which uses environmental sensors to monitor patients in the hospital. Go deeper
- “It’s the most outdated way of recording what’s going on” in a clinic or hospital, Toleti said.
Details: Crescent Cove Advisors, a San Francisco-based private equity and credit-led investment firm, provided the financing.
How it works: Care.ai’s technology includes environmental sensors designed to detect bed exit and prevent falls in hospital rooms.
- The sensors also track caregivers in a facility and provide non-contact patient screening and check-in, with the ultimate vision of reducing the need for manual tracking in medical records.
- Unlike remote patient monitoring solutions, care.aiThe s technology is not worn by the patient, which removes the patient’s obligation to be aware of his or her device at all times.
What is going on: Toleti says 1,500 facilities are using Care.ai’s technology, including Jupiter Medical Center and Northfield Hospital.
Yes but: While improving the efficiency of healthcare providers is a good start, the real test of any health technology tool is whether it improves patient outcomes, Stephanie Davis, senior managing director of SVB Securities, told Erin.
- It’s too early to know if most hospital automation technology can do that, Davis says.
- Still, adds Davis, “we can definitely see the technology saving the clinician time, which really makes a big difference.”
What’s next: Care.ai is considering making a “smaller” acquisition next year — something in the range of $5 to $10 million, Toleti says.
Send the news: Pandemic-induced staff shortages and burnout are driving huge demand for automated tools that promise to increase efficiency while reducing costs. Toleti says Care.ai’s virtual environment monitoring can help.
- “A shortage of nurses is putting more and more strain on care teams,” says Toleti. “That stimulates the adoption of our technology.”
Yeah so: EMRs are highly manual, requiring primary care physicians to spend more than half of their workday typing and charting, according to a 2017 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, and such manual processes can contribute to this medical errors that harm patients.
Context: Care.ai’s competitors include General Electric, which offers its own suite of clinical sensing tools, as well as remote hospital patient monitoring companies such as wearable sensor developer BioIntelliSense, which launched last year. raised $45 million in Series B financing.
Reality check: Despite years of hype, the vision of “smart hospitals“ — AI-powered, hyper-efficient places where healthcare providers and technology go hand-in-hand — is yet to come in full, with steep integration challenges and competition from point solutions focused on either the home or the hospital.
- “This all has to be integrated or it won’t work,” says Davis. “All these different healthcare locations — hospital, home, virtual — are different locations of the same care, so there’s no point in having different tech platforms for the same care you’re getting.”
- “The arc of hospital-based technology is often long,” added Davis. “I really think we’re moving in that direction and some of the ambient clinical intelligence solutions are a really big first step, but we’re a long way off.”
A nice thing: In a past life, Toleti helped design sensors for filming action sequences in Bollywood movies, and one day he came up with the idea of using the technology in healthcare.
- His previous health technology start-up, a mobile patient engagement platform called HealthGrids, was acquired by Allscripts (NAS: MDRX) in 2018 for $60 million in cash and $50 million in earnout payments.