San Francisco-based startup Viz closed a $7.5 million seed round led by DHVC (Danhua Capital) and Innovation Endeavors. They were joined by AME Cloud Ventures in a round that will support development of the company’s artificial intelligence platform, whose first application will be stroke. The system will apply machine learning to medical imaging, potentially identifying algorithms that will enable stroke patients to be quickly and accurately diagnosed and referred for further treatment.
The American Stroke Association reports that someone in the U.S. suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds; further, stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability in the U.S. This high rate of long-term disability may be attributed in part to inaccurate or incomplete diagnoses or other treatment delays. It is worth noting that the major categorizations of stroke as ischemic, hemorrhagic or as a transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke) all require different interventions and follow-up, so minimizing time to an accurate diagnosis is essential.
Viz CEO Chris Mansi, who trained as a neurosurgeon, describes the potential of his company’s technology as follows: “Viz is like having the best radiologist in the world on your team, a teammate who never gets tired, takes a vacation or stops learning.” In addition to stroke, the company plans to expand its applications to other time-critical emergency medicine indications.
The promise of big data has been evolving for years, and radiology has been one of the first, most visible opportunities. Another San Francisco-based company, Enlitic, is taking a broad approach to patient management, developing what promises to be a rich decision support platform based upon an array of clinical information (including radiology, pathology and laboratory results as well as other data). They raised $10M in a Series A round in 2015, and they debuted the first application of the system, a lung cancer screening tool, last fall. AIDoc, Zebra Medical Vision and Arterys are also among the companies in this active space, which has the potential to provide powerful tools to increase efficiency and accuracy in diagnostics and improve patient care.