Ciitizen raises $3M for personal health records, soon to open private beta

By Jonah Comstock
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Ciitizen raises $3M for personal health records

Anil Sethi speaking at PMWC18 in June. Credit:  Ciitizen on Twitter

Ciitizen, the health records tech company founded by ex-Appler Anil Sethi, has raised $3 million from Andreessen Horowitz's a16z Bio Fund. While Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Vijay Pande confirmed the investment in a blog post, the amount was reported by CNBC and hasn't been confirmed by MobiHealthNews.

A relatively young startup, Ciitizen is currently known mostly for the pedigree of its leadership team. Sethi founded Gliimpse, a small health data startup which was acquired by Apple in August 2016. Gliimpse was working on a personal health record that skirted HIPAA difficulties by having the patient control their own health data. Sethi stayed in Cupertino for a year before leaving to found Ciitizen.

Another cofounder, Brian Carlsen, also worked at Apple as a special projects lead. He now has the role of director of clinical innovation. And Deven McGraw, former deputy director for health information at HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, joined the startup last December and now serves as general counsel and chief regulatory officer.

As for what the company does, the mission seems both ambitious and in line with Sethi's previous projects. The company describes itself on its website as "a platform that helps you securely collect and share your personal health data."

As Pande explains in his post, Ciitizen aims to solve the many problems of healthcare data sharing and lack of interoperability by creating a patient-centered medical record. 

"In an age of data and modern machine learning, it shouldn’t be so hard for this data to see the light of day," Pande wrote. "But even though such data is key to making medical advances, it remains 'dark' because of the structure of the healthcare system: Providers don’t have any incentives to share data with patients or other physicians outside their network; even if they did, legacy systems and antiquated tech makes it difficult. Similarly, there is no natural incentive for payers to share data either. And then on top of all this, HIPAA is often (incorrectly) perceived as an unsurpassable barrier to the act of data sharing itself. Put together, these factors have built up a lot of friction against sharing data in the healthcare system over the years."

Ciitizen's platform will help patients collect their medical data by leveraging their rights under HIPAA. Then the platform will store the data and convert it into a usable format, making it easy to choose to share it. The goal is to open up the door for things like research and precision medicine using voluntarily shared data.

"Our health information is ours by right (check the HIPAA Privacy Rule of 2000)," Sethi wrote in a blog post yesterday. "We have a right of access to our data — to all our data, not just what’s offered in the 'portal.' To make the best possible choices for our care, we should control it. If a company wants access to our data, they should ask us. ... And, hey, if you don’t want to share with anyone, that’s your prerogative. It’s not our data. It’s yours. That’s the difference between Ciitizen and everyone else offering 'patient-centered' care: access to your comprehensive data can only come from you. You can share. Sell it. Donate it. Or do nothing. These are some of the many choices you have as a citizen (pun intended)."

Ciitizen is currently accepting signups for a private beta set to launch September 11.