Prognos Adds $20.5M for A.I. That Aims to Diagnose Diseases Earlier

Xconomy New York — 

This year, money has been funneling into companies that apply artificial intelligence to healthcare, from diagnostics to speech recognition software. The latest recipient is New York-based Prognos, which says it just closed a $20.5 million Series C round from a group of prominent insurers, drug makers, and venture capital investors.

Prognos’s A.I.-related software aims to identify patients who suffer from conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and non-small cell lung cancer by analyzing laboratory and diagnostics records. Prognos says it can help life science companies find patients who might benefit from the companies’ treatments, and at an earlier stage of their conditions. It currently works with 25 life science brands, Prognos says.

That ability to diagnose earlier, Prognos contends, will help improve patient care and lower healthcare costs—which may be part of the reason insurers, along with drug developers, have invested. Backers of the $20.5 million round include Cigna; GIS Strategic Ventures (the venture capital arm of the Guardian Life Insurance Company); Hermed Alpha Industrial ; London-based Hikma Ventures (the venture arm of Hikma Pharmaceuticals); Cincinnati-based Maywic Select Investments; Merck Global Health Innovation Fund; and Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE). Prognos says it has raised $42 million in venture capital to date.

Prognos is using the money to further develop its A.I. system, which it says uses 1,000 machine learning-enabled algorithms to analyze 50 medical conditions. The company says it analyzed more than 13 billion lab records for more than 180 million patients to develop the tools. Insurers like Cigna are interested in the product because it makes it possible to engage patients about their healthcare options early in their diagnosis, a Prognos spokewoman wrote in an e-mail.

Prognos also plans to use the new funding for sales and marketing and to help it expand to new markets.

Almost every large healthcare and tech company—from Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO), to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and IBM (NYSE: IBM)— is vying to compete in the emerging healthcare A.I. space in some form or another. That ranges from diagnostic-related products like the Prognos service, to technologies aimed at assisting doctors—or perhaps eventually replacing them—with A.I. systems. For more on the subject, read Xconomy’s ongoing series about A.I. in healthcare.