St. John’s-based SiftMed, which sells software for cleaning up disorganized medical records, has raised a $2.7 million seed round led by the Atlantic Canadian female-focused VC fund Sandpiper Ventures.
Chief Executive Holly Hill said in an interview she plans to use the money to hire more staff, as well as for product development and accelerating already-underway commercialization efforts.
SiftMed’s artificial intelligence platform automatically organizes medical records into a clearly labelled, searchable database for use by insurance company and law office employees as they assess some types of claims, such as accident-related injuries.
“We've been launching our product with more law firms and insurance companies, and getting their feedback and improving the accuracy of our models over the past two quarters,” said Hill.
“Building a machine learning tool takes time and a lot of data. And so it's really great to see the improvements in accuracy that we've been getting over the past few months — and also really great to see the traction in the market.”
SiftMed currently has 15 staff, up from 11 in October, and Hill plans to add as many as another 20 this year. SiftMed said the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency contributed $236,000 to the company to help it acquire a data security certification and add three new skilled positions to grow the business.
When she and Co-Founder Dr. Jeremie Larouche, an orthopaedic surgeon, initially conceived of SiftMed, they saw it as a way to streamline Larouche’s own medical consulting business.
SiftMed uses natural language processing to automatically organize and categorize files, optical character recognition to make scanned documents searchable and more sophisticated artificial intelligence to extract key medical data from the files.
The startup’s beachhead market was insurance companies, with personal injury law firms now also firmly in Hill’s sights.
“Let's say that you have a claim come in that you just opened on a car accident, and you are trying to determine the complexity of that claim,” said Hill of how insurance companies can benefit from SiftMed. “If you could have key insights identified to you when you open it right away, it's going to help reduce the time it takes to close that claim.
"We can start to identify the complexity of a claim. So whether or not a claim is a simple claim. Or maybe it's a multimillion dollar claim … and they want to put a senior adjuster on it, for example.”
Early SiftMed clients have reported the software cuts down on the time needed to review medical files by about half.
Hill’s team previously began beta testing last February, and in October, she said the company was working on converting those beta partners to customers.
“Holly and her team have developed a compelling digital health solution," said Sandpiper Co-Founder and Managing Partner Rhiannon Davies in a statement. "Electronic health record technology will improve patient care by minimizing medical errors by enhancing the quality and transparency of medical records, eliminating duplication of testing, and shortening delays of treatment."
The press release added that Pelorus Venture Capital also invested in the round.
So far, SiftMed has clients in Atlantic Canada and Ontario, and is making strides in the United States, where one of its investors is based.
“We are looking for more law firms and insurance connections who want to partner and improve the way they review medical files today,” said Hill. “So if anyone is interested or knows anyone interested in improving the way they review those files and improving accuracies and efficiencies, I would ask them to please get in touch with us.”