Investing in the Future and Long Term Sustainability of Primary Care

Today B Capital announced we’ve backed Bright.md, a virtual medical assistant for primary care cofounded by Ray Costantini and Mark Swinth. We led the $8M Series B round with participation from existing investor, Seven Peaks Ventures. The new funding gives the Portland-based startup a total of $11.5 million across all rounds. Bright.md partners with hospital systems to offer patients a virtual primary care option that captures patient reported data and medical history from the EMR. Bright.md uses that data to predict the diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan and escalate the patient to a face-to-face visit if necessary. The tool can eliminate wait times entirely and reduce the time to complete primary care visits by as much as 90%.

A promising market opportunity for AI in primary care

Bright.md hits on a number of themes we’re excited about at B Capital: AI, telemedicine, and redesigning primary care. As we navigate our way through this prolonged period of uncertainty in the U.S.’s regulatory landscape, we’ve zeroed in on these as sectors that can simultaneously drive down cost and improve outcomes. The B Capital Healthcare investment team articulated our thesis on AI in a recent Techonomy article; in short we believe that using technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of physician decision making will allow existing provider networks to provide better care to more patients at lower costs, while also providing a host of other benefits like shorter wait times and reduced physician burnout rates.

Companies like Teladoc and Doctor on Demand have found success by using telemedicine to provide a channel for easier access to primary care — essentially shifting the format of a traditional 1:1 visit to video. Our view is the next wave of telemedicine will leverage technology like AI to not only improve access but to also improve physician efficiency, thereby increasing the capacity of the entire health system. This is the promise of Bright.md’s revolutionary technology, SmartExam. Our view on telemedicine also fueled B Capital’s 2016 investment in SilverCloud Health, a digital therapeutic for mental health that expands physician capacity and delivers care on par with traditional face-to-face therapy.

Why Bright.md?

We believe under Ray and Mark’s guidance Bright.md will be part of that transformational shift. The way we think about accessing and receiving care is antiquated and far more expensive than it needs to be. Similarly, the way physicians think about delivering care has evolved at a snail’s pace compared to the rate technology has evolved. For many conditions the diagnosis and treatment process can be automated while maintaining or improving the quality of care delivered to patients. This is Ray and Mark’s shared vision and they’ve shown a remarkable penchant for executing on that vision.

We were impressed by what we heard in the market from provider systems that have partnered with Bright.md. Beginning with primary care, the outstanding team at Bright.md has delivered integrated and automated care via telemedicine to major multi-state hospital systems throughout the country. They’ve applied machine intelligence to care delivery in a way that expands provider capacity, improves patient access, and dramatically reduces the cost of care. The clinical team has rapidly expanded the set of conditions that can be treated from low-acuity primary care into more episodic conditions. This is an opportunity afforded to them due to the strong relationships they’ve built with customers, deep integration into provider workflow and EHR systems, and the value they’ve demonstrated along the way.

We’re excited to back this team and support them as they build a company and product to address one of the major issues facing healthcare today.