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In 2016, Ciitizen’s founder sold a company to Apple that helped boost the tech giant’s EHR efforts. Now, he’s working with Verily.
Before Anil Sethi co-founded the personal health data startup Ciitizen, he built a little company called Gliimpse. The organization’s primary purpose was to digitally connect patients to their medical records, providing them mobility and exceptional control over their health data. Then, in 2016, that small company became part of a very big one: Apple.
Several years later, Apple is aggressively moving into electronic health records (EHRs) — with at least some progress owed to its acquisition of Gliimpse. But the company’s founder, Sethi, has not left the medical records space. In fact, Ciitizen could emerge as a worthy competitor to Apple.
And the company is in a better position to contend than ever before. That’s because Ciitizen has raised $17 million in Series A funding, according to an announcement today. The financing follows $3 million in seed funding last year and provides Ciitizen with ties to prominent investors and experts.
Of particular note: Verily, the life-sciences and health-tech subsidiary of Alphabet. That’s right — Ciitizen now has a link to Google. Whether the company will ultimately fold into the Alphabet universe is unclear and, for now, unlikely. But if Sethi were to one day strike such a deal, it wouldn’t be his first time connecting Silicon Valley to patient-centric medical records.
For the time being, however, let’s examine Ciitizen and how it’s trying to reshape the medical record experience.
Most important, Ciitizen aims to enable patients to upload, organize and share their health records through a consumer-facing platform. The technology is not tied to specific health systems, like Apple’s EHR platform is thus far, and is already live for patients with cancer.
“Contrary to what is happening today, we want to facilitate patients gaining maximum direct benefit from what is rightfully theirs: their personal healthcare data,” co-founder and chief operating officer Premal Shah said in a statement.
That ‘enough is enough’ attitude pervades Ciitizen’s messaging and its blog. The company appears to be positioning itself as a rebellious force, dedicated to patient data control and ownership, which its leaders argue could improve not only care quality but also costs.
In a blog post last October, Sethi took aim at the broader U.S. healthcare system and why successful stakeholders don’t want to change it.
“Rather, companies are competing to aggregate and control our health data, curate it and sell it for their profit, while the patients deal with the consequences,” he wrote, setting up Ciitizen as a different kind of endeavor. “This. Stops. Now.”
Ciitizen’s tech, leaders and vision are impressing highly regarded investors. In addition to Verily, Section 32 participated in the latest funding round, with Andreessen Horowitz leading the effort.
Section 32 and Verily will each send executives to join Ciitizen’s board as observers. Vijay Pande, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz’s Bio fund, will take a seat on the board of directors.
In a statement, Pande said he expects some big things from Ciitizen as it works to fight the health data challenges facing patients with cancer.
“Using their deep insights, the Ciitizen team [has] developed sophisticated technology and tools that remove this friction, putting the power back in the patients’ hands and literally saving lives,” he said.
Ciitizen, meanwhile, plans to use the capital to push forward its platform development and commercial efforts. The company is “aggressively hiring” to develop products destined for unnamed healthcare partners, Shah noted.
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