Nayya, bringing transparency to choosing and managing healthcare plans, raises $2.7 million

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator -backed Nayya is on a mission to simplify choosing and managing employee benefits through machine learning and data transparency.

The company has raised $ 2.7 million in seed funding led by Social Leverage with participation from Guardian Strategic Ventures, Cameron Ventures, Soma Capital, as well as other strategic angels.

The process of choosing an employer-provided healthcare plan and understanding that plan can be tedious at best and incredibly confusing at worst. And that doesn’t even include all of the supplemental plans and benefits associated with these programs.

That’s where Nayya comes in. When enrollment starts, employers send out an email that includes a link to Nayya’s Companion, the company’s flagship product.

Companion helps employees find the plan that is right for them. The software first asks a series of questions about lifestyle, location, etc. For example, Nayya founder and CEO Sina Chehrazi explained that people who bike to work, as opposed to driving in a car, walking or taking public transportation, are 20 times more likely to get into an accident and need emergency services.

Companion asks questions in this vein, as well as questions around whether you take medication regularly or if you expect your healthcare costs to go up or down over the next year, without getting into the specifics of chronic ailments or diseases or particular issues.

Taking that data into account, Nayya then looks at the various plans provided by the employer to show you which one matches the user’s particular lifestyle and budget best.

Nayya doesn’t just pull information directly from the insurance company directory listings, as nearly 40 percent of those listings have at least one error or are out of date. It pulls from a broad variety of data sources, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to get the cleanest, most precise data around which doctors are in network and the usual costs associated with visiting those doctors.

Alongside Companion, Nayya also provides a product called ‘Edison,’ which it has dubbed the Alexa for Helathcare. Users can ask Edison questions like “What is my deductible?” or “Is Dr. So-and-So in my network and what would it cost to go see her?”

The company helps individual users find the right provider for them with the ability to compare costs, location, and other factors involved. Nayya even puts a badge on listings for providers where another employee at the company has gone and had a great experience, giving another layer of validation to that choice.

As the healthtech industry looks to provide easier-to-use healthcare and insurance, the idea of ‘personalization’ has been left behind in many respects. Nayya focuses first and foremost on the end-user and aims to ensure that their own personal healthcare journey is as simple and straightforward as possible, believing that the other pieces of the puzzle will fall into place when the customer is taken care of.

Nayya plans on using the funding to expand the team across engineering, data science, product management and marketing, as well as doubling down on the amount of data the company is purchasing, ingesting and cleaning.

Alongside charging employers on a per seat, per month basis, Nayya is also looking to start going straight to insurance companies with its product.

“The greatest challenge is educating an entire ecosystem and convincing that ecosystem to believe that where the consumer wins, everyone wins,” said Chehrazi. “How to finance and understand your healthcare has never been more important than it is right now, and there is a huge need to provide that education in a data driven way to people. That’s where I want to spend the next I don’t know how many years of my life to drive that change.”

Nayya has five full-time employees currently and 80 percent of the team comes from racially diverse backgrounds.

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Meet your healthcare providers post Covid-19: Greater agility, better infection containment, fast diagnostics & telemedicine

When the coronavirus surfaced in China in December 2019, it set off a domino effect worldwide – with the number of active cases snowballing rapidly. 

By February 2020, the daily increase in people falling ill with Covid-19 was in the thousands and -though international borders closed down and households went into lockdown – active cases skyrocketed in June to approximately 130,000 new cases a day, according to Worldometer. 

Major global cities from New York, to London, and Mumbai found their healthcare systems direly overwhelmed by the tsunami of symptomatic citizens. Many countries tried to “flatten the curve” of the contagious infection to manage the unprecedented overload on public health systems, and to distribute the demand for medical care, intensive care unit beds, and ventilators over a longer period. 

This large-scale global pandemic made healthcare – an industry traditionally slow to adopt innovation because of cumbersome regulatory and governmental pathways, low IT budgets, legacy systems, lack of trained personnel, and more – ripe for disruption. Technology entrepreneurs, unfettered by politics, bureaucracy and public financial constraint, entered the mainstream for the first time in order to triage the chaos raging in medical care in the face of Covid-19. 

Israel differs from other western countries in that it integrated tech into its medical system years before the emergence of the coronavirus. Israel stands at the vanguard of healthcare innovation, boasting a 100% fully digitized health system: its citizens, fully covered by national health insurance, can schedule medical appointments, check laboratory test results, and generally manage their health online. 

Israel also serves as an optimal beta-testing site for novel ideas as its world renowned medical and research institutions (including Sheba Medical Center, the Weizmann Institute, the Rambam Health Care Campus, and Hadassah Hospital) and health providers (Clalit and Maccabi) have developed globally-acclaimed pioneering digital health initiatives for millions of patients. These systems are based on one of the world’s most vast databases of lifetime personalized patient health records, which are released for therapeutic and research use by the Israeli government. For example, an affiliate of one such institution, the Migal Galilee Research Institute, MigVax is developing an oral Covid-19 vaccine that does not contain any form of the virus itself – creating a safe template for preventing future strains of the coronavirus. 

The extreme circumstances of the pandemic accelerated global healthcare’s digital transformation, with governments and regulatory bodies following suit to loosen rigid bureaucratic processes. The digital penetration of healthcare is here to stay – not just in how medical professionals contain the virus and prevent its spread, but in how they interact with, diagnose, and treat patients across the board. 

A Physical Transformation 

The first long-term changes the world will witness in healthcare will be physical: greater agility in how hospitals and equipment are structured is now a prime focus, according to McKinsey. To optimize infection containment and control, patients will require single rooms instead of being separated by curtains, elective care can be postponed or relegated to the patients’ homes or specialized centers, and hospitals’ ability to seamlessly convert regular beds to crucial care beds will be prioritized.

In addition, production of medical equipment from ventilators and masks to spare parts will be decentralized: many will be 3D printed on the spot, as was done in Italy. In Israel, cutting edge 3D printing technology allowed Nexa3D to quickly mass produce professional-grade face shields for frontline workers and provide them to hospitals at affordable prices.

Since the Covid-19 virus is believed to survive long periods of time on various surfaces, and hospitals are hotbeds of infections, there is a strong need for unrelenting and meticulous disinfection of medical facilities. Juganu developed a special UV-C light sterilization feature for hospitals and labs that can kill over 90% of viruses and microbes, without penetrating or damaging human skin.

Two more Israeli companies that are rushing in to disinfect crowded indoor spaces are Aura Smart Air, which screens and targets Covid-19 microbes in the air filtration system, and BioFence, which developed coatings for walls and partitions based on an innovative polymer that eradicates bacteria and viruses. 

Finally, SaNOtize serves as a preventative defense for the essential health practitioners coming into contact with infected patients: the nitric oxide solution, sprayed into the nose, utilizes antimicrobial and immunomodulating properties to neutralize viruses trying to enter the respiratory system. 

The second long-term changes the world will witness in healthcare will be virtual, as Covid-19 brought telemedicine as a delivery paradigm for medical care center stage. In the U.S. preceding the pandemic, telemedicine adoption by patients and physicians was slow to uptake with only 18% physician participation. It dramatically increased over the past few months to over 50% physician adoption, Fierce Healthcare reports. 

Healthcare workers are migrating essential in-person services online, out of the need to minimize contact with infected patients, including: diagnostic testing, treatments, monitoring, and even administering medication! These services are enabled by the enormous rise in digitized patient records globally, providing the datasets necessary for artificial intelligence-based systems to significantly improve medical performance, according to Forbes.

One example is a platform by Diagnostic Robotics, which uses a questionnaire triage system to analyze symptoms and generate a personalized risk profile for Covid-19, guiding medical professionals to the most urgent cases. Data.World launched a Covid-19 Data Resource Hub, revolutionizing how individuals and organizations process global coronavirus trends. Helping Pfizer obtain FDA approval for a Covid-19 drug in record time (under a week), CytoReason aggregates proprietary data from pharmaceutical companies across the industry and uses it to train its computational models of human disease. 

Neura integrates data gathered from mobile devices, including the detection of infection chains, to optimize government and healthcare cooperation. 

Providing contactless diagnostic testing is VocalZoom, which developed radars that read nanovibrations of the skin from a person’s pulse to

Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ

capture heart rate variability remotely, allowing non-invasive and quick screening of potential Covid-19 respiratory symptoms en masse – even among those appearing asymptomatic. 

 

Helping medical teams communicate with patients while simultaneously reducing direct contact is the “CoRobot” (Corona Robot) produced by Temi, which can be operated remotely to perform tasks like measuring patients’ temperatures, delivering medicine or antibiotics to them, and even deliver meals. ElliQ, created by Intuition Robotics, provides isolation assistance and companionship for the vulnerable. 

TytoCare

For patients recovering at home or in quarantine wards, TytoCare’s device allows physicians to perform remote medical exams, including lung exams, and monitor patient progress without exposure. Similarly,

K-Health connects smartphone users with board-certified doctors to discuss symptoms and receive care from home. 

Medisafe provides physicians with remote visibility into the medication management of homebound patients from its personalized mobile health platform. DreaMed offers a remote insulin therapy management system, using AI, for diabetes care at home and facilitates patient-doctor communication. 

Telemedicine is turning into the “front door” for health services. The patient’s journey will begin digitally and remotely and will then be redirected to required care by online professionals, reducing non-essential contact between healthcare personnel and non-acute patients. 

Time Transformation 

The last long-term change the world will witness in healthcare will be the trend towards making diagnostics more time-efficient using machine-learning technology. Israeli technologies are leading the way in formulating technologies that provide rapid testing results. 

MeMed

For example, MeMed can decipher within two hours whether an infection is bacterial or viral. Barcode Diagnostics can determine the efficacy of multiple chemotherapy drugs on a patient’s cancer, according to the patient’s specific DNA barcode.

Sight Diagnostics provides an accurate point-of-care Complete Blood Count (CBC) in 10 minutes, eliminating the need to transport infected samples to labs for results – also reducing the risk of further infection. 

PulmOne

The following three companies automate diagnostic testing, optimizing medical performance. PulmOne created the first portable and complete Pulmonary Function Testing machine, providing accurate, repeatable, and fully automatic measurements of total lung capacity. 

Scopio automates the imaging of full microscopy samples into high-resolution scans that can be shared digitally and viewed by other health care professionals remotely. Its built-in AI tools classify cells and compile a report of the results, accelerating the diagnostic process. Finally, Zebra Medical Vision uses healthcare provider datasets and image processing algorithms to automatically detect abnormalities (including Covid-19 findings) on standard, contrast and non-contrast, chest CT-scans. 

Mitigating the risk of all of the aforementioned medical devices and clinical networks is CyberMDX, which safeguards real-time data on device usage, performance, and inventory. 

Though the healthcare industry is often cautious regarding the adoption of technological advancements, the Covid-19 pandemic has catapulted hospitals from hotbeds of infection transmission to incubators of innovation. The world can be hopeful that leaps forward in the digital healthcare revolution will be able to leverage vast datasets and AI to predict future outbreaks and create mechanisms to suppress them before they spread.

This article was featured in OurCrowd’s Innovation Insider, a bi-annual publication covering tech trends, investing insights and more. Download the full edition here.

About the Authors

Ariel Krause is the Medical Investment Analyst at OurCrowd. Natalie Milstein assisted in writing this article.

 

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[OurCrowd in Baltimore Jewish Life] How the Pandemic is Changing World Healthcare

From Jerusalem, Israel, an online Pandemic Innovation Conference, a live interactive event, hosted by OurCrowd, brought together investors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate executives, government officials, and press from over 90 countries around the world.

Read more here.

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[data.world in Forbes] Creating Planet Data To Fight Covid-19 And Future Healthcare Emergencies

First, providing access to all the relevant open (publicly available) data in one place and facilitating its analysis. Data.world is a company whose business is to develop and sell an “enterprise data catalog,” software for listing, classifying, finding, and linking the data that runs a business.

Read more here.

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Blockchain Technology in Healthcare Market | Covid-19 Impact | Worldwide Demand, Growth Potential & Opportunity Outlook 2026 – Cole of Duty

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Plume is building a healthcare service specifically for the transgender community

Plume, the Denver-based startup that provides hormone replacement therapies and medical consultations tailored to the trans community, could not be launching at a time when the company’s services are more needed.

It’s no hyperbole to say that transgender citizens in the United States are under attack. Whether from government policies that are intended to defund their access to insurer-provided medical care, or actual physical assaults, transgender Americans are living in physically and politically perilous times.

That’s one reason why Matthew Wetschler and his co-founder Jerrica Kirkley founded Plume, which provides telehealth services tailored for the transgender community.

The two doctors met and became friends in medical school. From the earliest days, the two were inseparable, Dr. Wetschler recalled. “She and I spent nearly 12 hours a day together,” he said.

Dr. Jerrica Kirkley, Plume co-founder Image Credit: Plume

After medical school, Wetschler moved to the Bay Area to finish his residency at Stanford and then went on to run a consulting firm that worked primarily with digital health startups. Kirkley, who is transgender, focused on gender therapy in the trans community.

A little over a year ago the two began to discuss the potential for creating a primarily telehealth service for the trans community, Wetschler said.

“We have always shared a belief that the healthcare system can do better for patients and doctors,” he said. And almost no population is quite as exposed to the shortcomings of the current healthcare system as the transgender community.

“I had been increasingly interested in the telehealth space and the emerging trend of leveraging mobile technology to provide unparalleled access to clinical care at the touch of a button,” said Wetschler. “And many of the problems [Kirkley] was seeing with her patients involved finding doctors with expertise and safe sources of medications.”

In many instances, despite the duty of care that physicians have to maintain, transgender patients are subjected to discriminatory practices and even the denial of care. Roughly 20% of transgender patients who seek care are either denied that care or harassed because of their gender identity, Wetschler said.

Many patients don’t have access to the medications they need, which can lead to up to 30% of patients seeking out the medications they need on the black market.

It’s an issue for the more than 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender.

Plume provides a safe, on-demand service for patients that need it, said Wetschler. And does it for $ 99 per month.

The company doesn’t perform gender reassignment surgeries, but that’s about the only limitation on the care that the company offers. It can recommend local surgeons who will perform those procedures and it will provide consultations for patients or potential patients considering various hormone-related or surgical therapies. A majority of the Plume care team is transgender, according to Wetschler.

“What we’re proud of with Plume is that we offer a way of accessing this way of trans-specific care regardless of policy or insurance coverage,” said Wetschler. 

At the heart of Plume’s services is access to gender-affirming hormone therapy. “This is the fundamental medical treatment for the trans community,” Wetschler said. “The trans experience is unique in that for most it involves navigating a gender and cis-normative healthcare system that may not understand their experiences. It can be highly traumatic.”

Plume offers a medical evaluation, ongoing monitoring and lab assignments and prescriptions. Soon, the company will also provide medication delivery, as well.

For most Americans, there’s a presumption that medical care will be delivered in a non-judgmental and safe way (both psychologically and physically). For many trans Americans there’s a lack of comfort and risk that’s inherent in the end-to-end care experience. Plume is trying to solve for that.

Dr. Matthew Wetschler, Plume, co-founder Image Credit: Plume

Investors from the nation’s top venture capital firms, General Catalyst and Slow Ventures, believe in the company’s vision and have backed it with $ 2.9 million in seed financing. Springbank Collective is also an investor in the company.

“What I was drawn to with Plume is the commitment and conviction Mathew and Jerrica operate with in providing the trans community — a woefully underserved group with access to the health care they deserve,” wrote General Catalyst partner, Olivia Lew, in a statement. “The rollback of healthcare protections for the trans community this past week have only heightened awareness for the dire need for this company. One of the things we’re most excited about in the next wave of health innovation are companies that are using modern platforms like telehealth to serve people’s individual needs with more consumer friendly, personalized experiences.”

These personalized services become even more important for populations at risk, like the trans community, and they’re also more valuable.

“When people take hormone therapy… there’s an opportunity to have an ongoing longitudinal relationship and that’s something that’s highly valued,” said Wetschler.

Currently the transgender population spends around $ 4.5 billion to $ 6 billion on medication. And there’s an opportunity to provide better emotional and behavioral support to patients, as well, according to Wetschler.

Plume began providing services in Colorado a year ago, and is now available in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts.

There are roughly 700,000 transgender patients who can now avail themselves of the services Plume offers, but the population, and therefore the need, is growing.

“The estimates on the size of the trans population since a decade ago has been growing 20% year over year,” says Wetschler. “And Generation Z is five times more likely than baby boomers to identify as trans. The full visibility of the trans community is yet to be realized.”

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