A new teleradiology company snagged $16.5 million in series A funding as it seeks approval for its suite of software tools. Nines, a New York-based startup founded two years ago, is also using the funds to build out a team of radiologists and data scientists.
The company was created by David Stavens, co-founder and former CEO of education unicorn Udacity, and Dr. Alexander Kagen, radiology site chair for Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospitals. Nines’ technology is intended to detect conditions from head CT scans, such as hemorrhages and mass effect, prioritizing them for review by a radiologist.
Nines’ triage tool is not currently in use while it seeks approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Kagen said the tech should help radiologists triage these cases during busy times when images are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. He said technological advances have created an increased workload, with CT scans now generating thousands of images that radiologists must process along with patient history from electronic medical record systems.
“Trying to sort through that stack is an issue all radiologists have,” Kagen said. “If you have a list of 20 patients and patient No. 14 has an acute brain hemorrhage, we want to get to him now, not wait to get to number 14”.
While the $16.5 million fundraise was announced in late November, the round actually closed in August and was led by Accel and 8VC. Partners from both venture capital firms joined Nines’ board.
“They have built the strongest AI and technical team we’ve seen in the space and combined it with deeply relevant — and impressive — medical experience”, said Joe Lonsdale, founding partner of 8VC, in a news release announcing the money raised.
Other investors in the round include former Deutsche Bank COO Kim Hammonds, Veritas founder and former CEO Mark Leslie, and Lori Goler, vice president of human resources and recruiting for Facebook.
Nines is currently seeking FDA approval for its Emergent Neuro Suite technology as a computer-aided triage and notification software (CADt). Specifically, it will seek a 510(k) clearance from the FDA, a faster approval process that requires Nines to prove its technology is substantially equivalent to a device that is already on the market.
“AI and machine learning in radiology, it’s a quickly-growing field,” Stavens said. “There are a number of CADt medical devices that have been approved over the last few years”.
Of course, that also brings more competition. For example, teleradiology giant vRad has also been developing systems to help triage stroke and trauma patients. Stavens said Nines would set itself apart by having its radiologists, engineers and data scientists work on projects together.
“We think we are the first company to blend the best AI and machine learning with the best radiologists. We think that you need both”, he said.
Nines’ business has two components: its software solution, and its team of radiologists. The company’s specialists partner with hospitals, such as Mount Sinai Health System, to provide radiology services on evenings and weekends, when staffing levels are lower.
Stavens also hopes radiologists will also work with Nines’ engineers and data scientists to create new features that will help medical professionals.
“This is our starting point”, Stavens said. “We have a roadmap of algorithms we would like to build. Some are in process now, and others we will submit to the FDA after they review our Emergent Neuro Suite”.
In the longer term, Kagen also hopes to build tools that will help radiologists manage their growing workloads. The company is currently hiring for engineers at its Palo Alto headquarters, as well as teleradiologists across the U.S., according to its website.
Also published on Medium.