Founded by a medical doctor and an engineer in 2017, Japanese medtech startup Ubie which focuses on AI-based applications announced that it has raised $18.7M (JPY2 billion) in Series B funding led by SUZUKEN CO., LTD., a listed pharmaceutical distributor company in Japan. The pharma company has also entered into a strategic partnership with Ubie.
The startup will use the fresh funds to scale up the use of its healthtech platforms, expand research and development capabilities, and staff its various sales and engineering teams. These funds will enable the company to quickly scale its Hospital SaaS (Software as a Service) product “Ubie for Hospital”, and its consumer application, AI symptom checker “Ubie”, to reach new partners and customers nationwide.
In addition, Ubie also aims to expand its presence abroad in the near future.
WHAT THEY DO
The Ubie for Hospital product, also known as AI Monshin (Monshin means interview with a doctor/record taking in Japanese) is an AI-driven medical questionnaire software targeting users at medical institutions, in order to support document creation of clinical records under supervision from specialists. The SaaS solution which was launched in 2017 combines multiple workflow enhancing functions with Clinical Decision Support (CDS).
Patients will answer questions generated by AI Monshin while in the waiting room and their answers are summarized and translated into EHR compatible text. Next, physicians will review the results in the examination room prior to seeing the patient. The physician will then use the information collected by AI Monshin to examine and diagnose the patient. According to the startup’s latest statistics in January 2020, more than 200 medical institutions in Japan are using AI Monshin.
The second product, a consumer-facing AI symptom checker named Dr Ubie, is a physician supervised symptom checking app. Users can understand their symptoms by answering questions prompted by the AI and learn how to cope with the symptoms based on the disease information.
THE LARGER TREND
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan last month, Ubie released an add-on COVID-19 triage system on its Ubie for Hospital platform to help doctors and medical workers with better and more efficient diagnosis. Ubie said that its online screening and triage tool could rapidly differentiate between those potentially really sick with COVID-19 and those with less life-threatening ailments, which also help to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and nosocomial infection.
In May 2018, Ubie raised an estimated $2.7 million (JPY 300 million) in funding led by Kanden Venture Management (KVM), which is a corporate venture capital of The Kansai Electric Power Company headquartered in Osaka, according to an article by The Bridge.
ON THE RECORD
“Today, technology supports every aspect of life,” said Kota Kubo, AI engineer and co-founder of Ubie. “In the current coronavirus pandemic, new technologies are being utilized to stop the infection.
However, many of the technologies and products that we use daily in Japan are developed by foreign tech companies. As a Japanese tech entrepreneur, this fact makes me disappointed and impatient. The COVID-19 situation is still very unpredictable, but progress to this point continues to prove to the world that Japan’s healthcare system is effective and resilient. I believe it is our turn to support our healthcare workers.”
“I strongly believe that our company is going to play a crucial role in combating the current crisis. During these uncertain times, our mission; “to develop a healthcare guide for everyone” has never been more important. With our AI-based symptom checker and clinical decision support technology, which we have been developing since 2013, we will make healthcare accessible to everyone by creating a “search engine” for healthcare. We are going to go full throttle to realize our company mission as soon as possible, with help from this fresh round of funding, and with the full support of all our stakeholders,” said Ubie co-founder and medical doctor, Yoshinori Abe.