Semantic Health raises $3.3M seed round to harness AI for health systems

The startup helps hospitals unlock value from unstructured data using AI.

Semantic Health Inc., a health tech startup with employees in Toronto and Vancouver, emerged from stealth today with $3.3 million in seed funding. The round was led by DCVC with involvement from Preface Ventures, Liquid 2, RiSC Capital, Wayfinder VC and others.

The startup's product is meant to harness artificial intelligence (AI) to transform physician notes into universal alphanumeric codes, while also capturing diagnoses and interventions for reporting and reimbursement. Simply put, their goal is to automate manually done tasks and help hospitals unlock value from unstructured data.

The company’s genesis can be traced back to the company founder's experience in medical school. Dr. Nicola Sahar observed how hospitals were investing significant dollars to manually structure clinical data into formats that can be used for reimbursement, decision-making, and analytics. All of these processes were being carried out in a manual, error-prone, and inefficient manner. It wasn’t a problem isolated to the hospital he was working in.

“When I first encountered medical coding in a hospital and coming from the perspective of my machine learning background, I quickly saw the potential for artificial intelligence to improve these processes,” said Sahar, CEO of the company.

Dr. Sahar left medical practice to launch Semantic, which leverages AI to take on tasks that would typically fall to clinicians. “Our product has already started streamlining medical coding and auditing processes at leading hospitals to optimize their revenue cycles, allow hospital operational staff to focus on high value activities and, most excitingly, uncover healthcare insights from clinical documentation,” he said.

The startup has a number of hospitals on board already.

“Semantic Health will fundamentally change the way that we look at and consider our medical coding and auditing processes,” said Peter Bak, CIO at Humber River Hospital. “Their underlying artificial intelligence technology presents us with an opportunity to deliver a wide variety of improvements at the frontline of care delivery.”

James Hardiman, a partner at DCVC, says that it's rare for a platform to have cascading benefits throughout health systems, but, “Semantic Health has done exactly that.”

“They have built the most sophisticated technology for tackling complex inpatient documentation workflows,” Hardiman added. “Its platform will have clear results on financial outcomes, patient care and operational efficiencies, affecting many stakeholders in a hospital or health system.”

The majority of Semantic’s team is in Toronto, but the startup has technical and business employees in Vancouver, including engineers and its head of legal and business operations.

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