Conversa raises $8M for AI-powered chatbot to improve patient engagement

Conversa raises $8M for AI-powered chatbot to improve patient engagement

Conversa raises $8M for AI-powered chatbot to improve patient engagement

By Heather Mack

San Francisco-based Conversa, makers of a healthcare conversation platform, has raised $8 million in Series A funding to expand its product offerings and build up its clinical conversation library. Northwell Ventures, the funding arm of New York healthcare system Northwell Health, led the round, with contribution from Epic Ventures and Healthgrades.

Conversa’s Conversation Platform aims to help healthcare organizations with patient engagement and population health initiatives through automated conversations via text message. We last heard from the company when it announced a partnership with Healthgrades to create an AI-powered chatbot. The feature works by using longitudinal patient data to trigger automated conversation based on Conversa’s library of clinical conversation modules. A web-based dashboard displaying continuous metrics is on the backend to help healthcare organizations better understand their engagement and population health management strategies.

Conversa's technology platform can also incorporate data from wearables via a partnership with Validic, and all the data that's collected over the course of a CareChat can be incorporated into the hospital's information flow in different ways, including via the EHR, a care management platform, or a special clinician dashboard.

The CareChats feature is already in use at a number of large health systems and hospitals around the country that were already working with Healthgrades for their customer relationship management software, including Ochsner Health System, Carolinas Healthcare System, Northwell Health and Citrus Valley Health Partners.

“As a company and an industry, we find ourselves at a really exciting inflection point: automated, personalized patient engagement is beginning to transform how care teams communicate and collaborate between visits and is resulting in better outcomes and lower costs,” Conversa CEO and cofounder West Shell III said in a video on the company’s website.

For example, Shell said, one customer reported a 94 percent engagement rate with senior patients who got hip and knee replacement surgeries.

“That is translating to a 20 percent reduction in post-acute care, with over $3,400 average savings per patient over 90 days,” Shell said. “They want to be engaged, they want to be reminded. That’s the impact from simple, personalized, timely communications. Better conversations lead to better outcomes and care costs.”

The company also welcomed two new members to its board of directors: Joseph Schulman, who is the executive director of Northwell Health Solutions, and serial entrepreneur Steven Lindseth.

“We will be using Conversa to greatly enhance our ability to do what we set out to do each and every day at our organization: Empower patients, families and providers to improve patient-important outcomes through a focus on access, coordination, activation, integration and alignment,” Schulman said in a statement. “Conversa is enabling Northwell to use innovative, scalable technology to improve care coordination, patient satisfaction, and ongoing patient relationship management resulting in the improved well-being of our customers while also reducing costs.”

Shell noted an increasing demand for an automated, clinically intelligent solution to transform healthcare outcomes, and said the company has a “whole range of new announcements” that will be coming out shortly.

The new funding will also go towards expanding Conversa’s team and grow its customer and distribution partner network. Just a few weeks ago, the company announced the hiring of two new executives: Chris Edwards, who formerly served as Validic’s global chief marketing officer, will work as Conversa’s new chief marketing and experience officer. Becky James, who worked for 17 years at WebMD Health Services, will come onboard as Conversa’s vice president of operations.