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AI Implementation Earns IDx Right to Be Picky, $33M


Its artificial intelligence diagnostic system diagnostic system is not just cleared by the FDA. It’s already in use.

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IDx has developed a technology that can detect diabetic retinopathy without clinician aid.

IDx, the company behind the first autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic system approved in the U.S., is busy today counting its bills.

And it has quite a bit to tally. After its diagnostic tech for diabetic retinopathy, IDx-DR, entered the clinic in June, a number of investors reached out to IDx, according to the company. Today, it unveiled which venture capitalists succeeded — and $33 million in funding.

>> READ: The Numbers Behind the First FDA-Approved Autonomous AI Diagnostic System

“We carefully selected our co-investors because of the strategic value they provide to the company,” IDx Vice Chairman Stefan D. Abrams said in a statement. “We expect this investment to accelerate the adoption of the IDx-DR, a unique and much-needed solution for the 30 million people with diabetes in the U.S. alone who need to be tested for diabetic retinopathy each year.”

8VC led the funding round, with support from Optum Ventures, Alpha Edison and Heritage Provider Network.

In statements, investors emphasized IDx’s real-world implementation as a cause for optimism. In the increasingly hype-fueled AI space, it’s difficult to distinguish which startups mean business from the ones that are destined to flop. A novel clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and an existing footprint in the clinic can help.

“Some of the biggest companies in the world are trying to implement AI in healthcare, but IDx is leading the way in real-world execution,” noted Drew Oetting, a founding partner at 8VC, adding that IDx’s anti-black-box approach has helped it stand out.

Its first diagnostic system analyzes images of the eye to detect “more than mild” diabetic retinopathy in adults with diabetes. Because the technology doesn’t require a clinician to interpret the results, IDx touts the product as a means to bring “specialty-level diagnostics” to primary care settings, including retail clinics.

IDx-DR punched its way into clinical practice in June at University of Iowa Health Care, helping care teams there fight the potential for blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy. The company is “currently working on” placing the diagnostic system in “several additional” health systems, who hope to begin using the tech this year.

IDx intends to use its new money to boost adoption and develop other AI diagnostic systems. It’s working on tech to detect macular degeneration, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and stroke risk, according to a press release.

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