Transforming healthcare access, affordability and accuracy with Artificial Intelligence: Our Series B in SigTuple
SigTuple makes common screening, and pathology tests more accessible, affordable and accurate by leveraging the power of robotics, AI and cloud computing.
One of the most lucrative and credible applications of artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be in healthcare, particularly AI in diagnostics draws most investors attention, today. Backpedal to 2015, when Rohit and team met with Accel, we were unsure how this would play out as a tangible business, given the magnitude of challenges in our healthcare world. The questions were around collating reports and data from the hospitals and labs, doctor buy-ins, clinical validations as part of regulatory approvals and the metaphorical elephant in the room, was ‘owning the data’ by whom and how.
By the end of 2015, SigTuple had decided to crystallise their focus on high volume screening tests that required review of medical data by a medical expert. They signed on strategic and data partnerships with a well-established lab chain in the city, set up the MVP, and gained support from the medical fraternity. Thus, resulting in further discussions of building a data driven intelligence product in diagnostics with Subrata and Prayank from Accel. Our thesis formalised to understanding the large gaps that exist in diagnostics in India — accessibility, affordability and accuracy, which were waiting for a solution ridden in the leading edge of technology. We at Accel, acknowledged that the business required considerable change management within the healthcare ecosystem, but as investors, we believed in the challenge that the entrepreneurs were deeply committed to solve, and wanted the company to succeed.
The global healthcare industry is underserved, and the problem is attributed to the inaccessibility, unaffordability and inaccuracy of basic medical services. The global median for doctor to patient ratio is 1.2:1000. Globally, 400 million people don’t have access to a hospital within a 100 km radius, and half the world lacks the essential health services. The estimated global healthcare inflation is 7.2% making it difficult to make healthcare services affordable for everyone. The rate of inaccurate reporting from medical labs is close to 1:3 (Source: World Health Organisation).
AI diagnostics has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes through faster delivery, effectiveness and costs. AI in healthcare is a triumph for science, representing years of learning in computing power and the neural networks that underlie deep learning. AIML enables healthcare practitioners in condensing medical knowledge, which has been thoroughly analysed and coded by these systems, for providing higher precision and accurate diagnosis to the patient. We hope AI can deliver its promising convergence of science and mathematics to improve outcomes by 30–40% with decreased diagnostics and treatment costs by as much as 50%, for more than 70% of global patients by 2025 (numbers from Frost & Sullivan study, 2016).
SigTuple is solving some of the most advanced research problems arising out of an unprecedented application of recent advances in robotics, AI and cloud computing to the medical domain. From crunching through microscopy images of blood to quantifying normal and abnormal blood cells to tracking sperm cells in microscopy videos, to localising pathologies in retinal scan images, they are at the bleeding edge of things. Research in robotics, core AI, computer vision and extreme platform engineering are an integral part of their journey. Their indigenous cloud-based AI platform automates routine tests and empowers pathologists in hospitals and clinics with precision, efficiency, and speed.
The core product of the company is “Manthana” — a continuous learning platform powered by AI for healthcare. The name is coined from “Samudra Manthana” — an important event in Indian mythology. The platform is used to churn data to generate intelligence.
Manthana allows SigTuple to ingest visual medical data from different devices and build a longitudinal memory. It can train, validate and execute AI and ML powered models to classify various objects of interest, detect diseases and compute metrics for reporting. The metrics provided by the platform are supported by visual evidence which eliminates the need of the medical expert to sit next to the patient, medical device or biological sample.
For pathology solutions, they have developed a state-of-art, low cost, smart device AI100 that is powered by a GPU. This device digitises different biological samples of blood, urine and semen on a single click and then the AI-powered software modules on the cloud utilises the digitised slide to generate a report.
SigTuple has filed for more than a dozen patents and has publications in medical and computer science journals and conferences.
The founders, Rohit, Apurv and Tathagato, are technology industry veterans, with specialisation in big data, machine learning, image processing and building large scale enterprise platforms. Being rank outsiders (founders with non-medical background), it took some time to define and conceptualise the product-market-fit. With support from medical leaders in Bangalore, they were able to convert the initial ideas to practical product proposals.
SigTuple now has a strong and diverse 90-member team of doctors, robotics engineers, data scientists, platform developers, regulatory and intellectual property experts.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to make healthcare accessible, affordable and accurate. Year after year our confidence to transform the healthcare delivery has increased. We are excited about the future as we are gearing up to take our solutions and services to the larger population.” — Rohit Kumar Pandey, Co-founder & CEO, SigTuple
“More than anything else, a strong source of encouragement for us has been the eagerness with which healthcare professionals at every level are awaiting such solutions. The inefficiencies and lack of quality in the existing workflows bothers them as well.”– Apurv Anand, Co-founder & COO, SigTuple
In the recently concluded Series B round, SigTuple raised close to USD 19 million, with its total raised capital of USD 25 million. The investment has been led by Accel and IDG Ventures and supported by other prominent institutional investors such as Endiya Partners, Pi Ventures, VH Capital, Axilor Ventures and Binny Bansal. The company has also raised debt from Trifecta Capital in this round.
SigTuple will use the latest round of funding to power the manufacturing and distribution of AI100, R&D of novel solutions and further enhancements of the existing solutions, clinical trials, regulatory approvals and expansion in other markets.
“Today, SigTuple has come a long way in addressing the various challenges they took on, by effectively combining AI and innovation around the hardware and software. Despite the recent proliferation of numerous AI platforms by big and small players, the company has differentiated itself with a diverse and fresh look into the approaches to solving large healthcare problems.” — Barath Shankar Subramanian
With the launch of AI100, SigTuple is geared to go commercial with its avant-garde offering in India as the first market. We at Accel are proud and excited to be part of this revolutionary and impactful journey.
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