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AI health firm Myia raises $6.75m in seed funding

Edmund Heaphy
Ireland Correspondent
Healthcare labs are increasingly using AI tools to develop treatments and in medical research. Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A healthcare startup that uses data from Apple Watches and Fitbits to improve the outcomes of chronically ill patients has raised $6.75m (£5.26m), and is set to announce major new deals with US healthcare providers.

Myia, the San Francisco-based health monitoring firm that has partnered with the American College of Cardiology, said on Friday that the seed funding would help it expand its preventative healthcare platform.

The firm will soon announce two partnerships with large-scale US healthcare providers, its CEO, Simon MacGibbon, told Yahoo Finance.

The funding round was led by BootstrapLabs and Zetta Venture Partners, two Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence funds.

Myia uses the streams of personal and health data from wearable devices like Apple Watch and Fitbit to monitor chronically ill patients and, by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, tries to predict relapses before they happen.

“We think that remote patient monitoring is going to be a big deal,” MacGibbon said in an interview, noting that thus far the data collected by wearables has provided little value for patients and healthcare providers. “How on earth can healthcare providers be successful if they don’t know what’s happening to their patients 99.9% of the time?”

Myia aims to reduce the number of emergency hospital visits for patients with chronic and post-operative conditions, and said its platform “sets a new bar on quality of life for those who are ageing or homebound.”

The company declined to disclose its valuation, but co-founder Alex Gold told Yahoo Finance that it was commensurate with that of other seed funding rounds within the AI space.

The American College of Cardiology and the Boston Consulting Group also participated in the funding round. “It is quite a big advantage to have the American College of Cardiology behind us — not just as a financial backer, but as an adviser and for the credibility that they lend,” MacGibbon said.

“Through our collaboration with Myia, we are developing tools for clinical teams to monitor and improve their patients’ health status,” said cardiologist Dr John Rumsfeld, the chief innovation officer of the American College of Cardiology, in a statement.

Some 6.5 million Americans suffer from advanced cardiovascular disease, making it one of the largest drivers of hospital admissions in the US. Many of these visits are preventable by a proactive lifestyle and medication adjustments, Myia noted in a statement, and just 1% of heart failure patients today are on the correct dose of medication — something the firm hopes its technology will help change.

The firm’s funding announcement comes in the same week that Amazon announced it is working with groups within the healthcare industry to make use of unstructured medical data.

Myia employs 12 people in the US, and does not plan on increasing its headcount dramatically until its next funding round, MacGibbon said.

Though Myia’s “brain trust,” which includes its chief technology officer Bryan Smith and chief medical officer Dr Farzad Azimpour, is based in the US, the company also uses an off-shore engineering team from Eastern Europe.

“The funding gives us two years of runway,” MacGibbon said. It will also allow Myia to acquire enough healthcare data to build out its platform. “Acquiring the data in healthcare and capturing the requisite endpoints to train algorithms is not straightforward or cheap,” he said.

“Myia is truly exciting,” said Nicolai Wadstrom, the CEO of BootstrapLabs. “Myia has the potential to both mitigate some of the most critical illnesses we are facing in our society as well as empower patients to take charge of their own health data.”