Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone has invested an undisclosed amount of funding in a Delhi-based healthtech startup Visit, Stone announced it in a blog post. The funding round reportedly also saw the participation of Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, US-based BlueJeans Network co-founder Alagu Periyannan and Qualcomm Ventures’s former executive Karthee Madasamy.

Founded in 2016 by Anurag Prasad, Vaibhav Singh, Shashvat Tripathi and Chetan Anand, Visit uses AI-based chatbot for health advice, and the bot connects users with a network of doctors over a chat, video chat, or phone. In his blog post, Stone explains that “people interact with the Visit chatbot by sharing some symptoms. The bot follows up with relevant questions to collect more symptoms and risk factors (is the person hypertensive, diabetic, a smoker). This triaging is conversational, and low stress”. He added that Visit’s machines are trained using over 20,000 probabilistic relationships between variables such as conditions, symptoms, risk factors, past history, and more. Once a probable medical condition is determined, Visit connects the patient to one of over 2,000 health specialists all across India via video, phone, or chat so the right treatment can be put into place.

On Why he has invested in Visit, Stone added that people will likely be more truthful with a bot than a person too.  It looks like that the startup will use the money to expand its services globally, as it says on its website that it is soon launching in US.

Spurt of funding in healthtech

Over the past 12 months or so, a number of health tech companies have attracted investments. While these companies all fall under the broad category of health tech, individually each company is focused on different areas.

  • Earlier this month,  Bangalore-based healthcare startup Curefit secured Rs 4.18 crore funding from Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and Myntra-Jabong CEO Ananth Narayanan. The startup currently offers health and fitness solutions through three verticals – CultFit, EatFit and MindFit through online and offline channels.
  • Online fitness services provider HealthifyMe raised $12 million from Sistema Asia Fund and others. Besides individual users, HealthifyMe also works with companies and healthcare centres. Companies can tie-up with it to offer its employees diet plans, workout coaching and more. Similarly, healthcare centres, including individual physicians can tie-up with the company to offer additional services to their patients.
  • In March, digital health startup healthi also raised $3.1 million from Montane Ventures. The company focuses on preventative healthcare, providing a set of tools to its users to make healthy choices.
  • In September last year, myUpchar, which provides healthcare and wellness content in Hindi, raised Rs 2 crore from a consortium of angel investors. The company will use the funds to create content in other Indic languages such as Marathi and Malayalam.
  • In June 2017, Grow Fit raised $4.5 million from the Manipal Education and Medical Group and existing investors. Grow Fit provides nutrition and diet counselling, skin and hair care remedies, counselling and therapy through its chat-based coaching programme. The company also offers an online health food store, which sells breakfast, smoothies, snacks, a variety of attas, and special diet plans. It also runs its own kitchen through which it delivers healthy food to users.
  • Bangalore-based SigTuple, which can be considered as a direct competitor of LiveHealth, raised $5.8 million from Accel Partners and others, in February last year. The company builds products for automated analysis of medical images and data to help with diagnosis, which includes Manthana, a medical intelligence platform, that consists of a data and machine learning backend combined with real-time reporting and API platform to offer analytics across data sets.
  • Then there are the more established players like the online pharmacy 1mg, which raised funding last year. It also provides online diagnostic service which allows users to schedule a lab technician visit for collecting blood samples, and the results are sent to the user via post and email.

National Health Policy

Last year, the government of India had said that it plans to set up a National Digital Health Authority (NDHA), as part of the National Health Policy 2017. As part of this, the government will create an Aadhaar linked Health Information Network for sharing patient data, which will “link systems across public and private health providers at State and national levels consistent with Metadata and Data Standards (MDDS) & Electronic Health Record (EHR)“.