Health, Wellness & Biotech

Exclusive: Anima Targets Better Health Triage With $2.5M Seed

Illustration of doctor speaking to patient.

Coming off a recent Y Combinator graduation, London-based Anima announced a $2.5 million seed round to develop tools to prevent avoidable deaths.

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Hummingbird Ventures led the round, which also included Amino Collective and a group of angel investors. With this new round, the company has raised a total of $2.7 million, according to Anima co-founder Shun Pang.

Pang and Rachel Mumford started the health care triage company in 2020 after both experiencing times when early screening could have changed patient outcomes. Mumford lost her grandmother to an infection that could have been diagnosed through basic screening questions. Pang was a primary care doctor in London and often had to break bad news to patients, including a woman with abdominal pain that ended up being terminal liver cancer.

“We want to catch health problems in people as early as possible, get them seen by a doctor and reduce the time they wait to do that to under 24 hours,” Pang told Crunchbase News.

How it works

On average, people wait 24 days to see a doctor in the U.S., while in the U.K., where there is public health care, the average wait is 15 days. The longer wait times are due to demand and a shortage of doctors, Pang said.

Physicians worldwide are also stuck in a workflow that creates fixed appointment slots. Patients call the practice to book an appointment, which is typically also the first time the physician is gathering information and assessing the patient’s needs. If someone has an uncomplicated problem, the 10-minute appointment may suffice, but for something serious, it is not enough, he said.

“Without the information flow between appointments, you can’t figure out which bucket the patient is in,” Pang added.

The U.S. care coordination software market is expected to be valued at $3.18 billion by 2022, according to a Frost & Sullivan study. Other startups focused in this space are also seeing investor attention. Preveta, which takes a data-driven and artificial intelligence approach to care coordination for medical practices and hospital systems, inked $2 million in seed funding last week led by MaC Venture Capital and TSVC.

Anima is tackling this problem with automated triage. Instead of calling the practice and booking the appointment, the patient will submit the problem through Anima’s platform. The platform asks questions and then presents a report of the findings and data to the patient’s clinic via a dashboard where all team members can collaborate.

The physician can look at answers to the questions, the data trends across time, and determine what the patient needs, whether that is a prescription or booking an appointment right then.

“Imagine the difference,” Pang said. “If you had liver cancer, you would have to wait weeks before they said you have a serious problem. If you came through Anima, it would have caught the red flags and booked an appointment.”

Next steps

The new funding will enable Anima to deploy across the United Kingdom, as well as add to its team of three. Pang expects to hire three or four engineers and build out a sales team this year. He and Mumford are also working on what he called “Anima 2.0” that will include precision medicine.

Anima launched its platform early in March and is live in two clinics that cover 10,000 patients. Pang expects to be in 70 clinics by the end of the year, which represents just 1 percent of the U.K. market and 1 million patients.

“There is a lot of potential because Anima fits directly into commonwealth models, as well as value-based care models in the U.S.,” he added. “Anima was designed with that in mind, and the incentives are aligned for every stakeholder.”

What investors have to say

Lola Wajskop, an investor with Hummingbird VC, said in an interview that she relates to what Anima is doing. Just prior to meeting Pang and Mumford, Wajskop was sick and trying to find care, but was unable to be seen immediately.

She believes the global pandemic is a driver for why the U.K.’s National Health Service and general practitioners are looking at companies like Anima.

‘With COVID-19, practices have to start managing patients in a different way,” Wajskop said. “eConsult Health has a basic triaging system, but you are still not hearing back for a couple of days or even a week and aren’t given any insights. We were impressed with Shun and Rachel and could see how a doctor, who everyone wants to see in person and is exhausted from work, could benefit as well. Shun and Rachel have huge visions for Anima, and we are sure this is ‘Step 1’ for the journey in health care.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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