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OSF Ventures invests in company bringing AI diagnosis to health care locations

OSF Ventures, the investment arm of OSF HealthCare, has joined nine other investors in a $75 million Series B financing round to support Iowa-based Digital Diagnostics’ efforts to speed growth, implementation and sales, plus deepen the development pipeline for digital tools aimed at improving patient access to early disease detection and treatment.

OSF Ventures participated in the latest financing that was led by global investment firm KKR and also includes Cedar Pine, Kinderhook Industries, 8VC, Optum Ventures, Gundersen Health System, Edward – Elmhurst Health Venture Capital and the University of Iowa.

Digital Diagnostics has a mission to benefit patients by transforming accessibility, affordability, equity and the quality of health care through technology that enables disease detection at the point of care that would typically involve specialists. The company currently has two autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) products, including the first-ever FDA De Novo cleared AI diagnostic platform that can make a diagnosis without physician review. The company’s IDx-DR platform can, within minutes of an easy exam, detect diabetic retinopathy (DR) (including macular edema (ME)) in the early stages for people who might not have had previous access to a diabetic eye exam.

OSF Medical Group has piloted use of the Digital Diagnostic platform. OSF Medical Group President Jeff Tillery, MD, has been impressed with the accuracy and ease of use of the equipment.

“Our ongoing pilot of IDx-DR showed more than 21 percent of patients screened at eight primary care locations tested positive for diabetic retinopathy and were referred for follow-up with an ophthalmologist. That early identification, offered through easy access, is critical to improving the chance we can prevent loss of vision for our patients,” Tillery said. “That’s exciting because our goal always is to prevent disease or at a minimum, detect it early for better treatment results.”

Diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of blindness in the U.S.

OSF Ventures Vice President Mayank Taneja believes Digital Diagnostics is focusing on tools that can be scaled easily and that impact a large percentage of the population.

“Diabetes is a large and growing problem in the U.S. with more than 34.2 million people who are vulnerable to developing DR or ME. In addition, we know one-third of Americans don’t wear sunscreen and many, particularly vulnerable populations, are not educated about melanoma and other types of skin cancer and disease,” Taneja stresses. “OSF HealthCare and many health systems need options to address health equity and a key to that is providing more access to diagnosis and treatment through easy-to-use tools at a significant entry point – the primary care office.”

Digital Diagnostics is also focusing on improving outcomes for patients with other diseases. One example is in dermatology where a platform is deployed for easy referrals and AI support using highly standardized skin images to detect melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

John Bertrand, Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Diagnostics commented, “We know OSF is committed to using ethical principles as it relates to the creation of algorithms to benefit patients, and we are proud that we have done that with our flagship product, IDx-DR. We plan to use what we’ve learned in the design, development and validation of IDx-DR as we push to make AI a standard of care.” Bertrand adds, “OSF HealthCare also shares our goal of transforming health care so we’re proud to have the Ventures team among our supporters.”

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