Palliative Care-Focused Austin Startup Iris Plans Raises $5.1M

Austin—Iris Plans, a telemedicine company that connects patients to palliative care, announced Wednesday that it has raised $5.1 million.

The funding round was led by Activate Venture Partners in New York and Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners. Oakland, CA-based Better Ventures also joined the round.

Steve Wardle, Iris Plans’ co-founder and CEO, says the startup plans to use the money to hire additional developers, marketers and other employees. Iris Plans, which last year had a partnership with the University of Utah Health Plans, has acquired new customers such as Brookdale Senior Living, which operates around 1,100 senior living centers in the country and Humana.

“Almost none of our demographic are digital natives,” he says. “We want to make the process as simple as possible. We are creating a one-stop dashboard that’s becoming a place for family members and their caregivers to be there in support of their loved one.”

For example, co-founder and chief medical officer Stephen Bekanich says Iris Plans has digitized document processing such as a DNR, or “do not resuscitate” order, that some people might use to prevent caregivers from prolonging life if they should stop breathing or their heart stops. “It’s a very manual process but we’re having these built out so they are generated through the discussion” among patients, caregivers, and family members, he says.

“By the time the discussion is over, the documents are auto-populated and can be signed and witnessed electronically,” he adds.

Iris Plans was founded two years ago and has developed an online office where doctors, nurses, or social workers can advise patients and their families about forming a plan for end-of-life care. The company created a digital network of contract and employee healthcare providers that, through telemedicine, walk through a patient’s wishes alongside their families. Working through questions about how far they wish medical treatment should be taken can help inform treatment as a disease progresses.

“They have shown some really strong success with patients and families,” says Krishna Srinivasan, co-founder of LiveOak Venture Partners in Austin. “We feel confident they will take that strong success and traction and scale it in significant fashion.”

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