The isolation and fragmentation of data remains a fundamental issue that the healthcare industry is struggling to solve. Smile Digital Health — a Toronto-based health IT company — recently raised $30 million in Series B capital to help address that problem.
The funding round was led by Smile’s existing investors, which include UPMC Enterprises and 30 North Group. The financing brings the company’s total funding to date to $51.5 million, CEO Duncan Weatherston said in an interview.
Founded in 2016, Smile’s goal is to modernize the way the data is stored, used and shared in the healthcare industry, he declared.
“The current lack of interoperability in healthcare — and the difficulty in accessing what information is available — is a major impediment to efficiency and quality of care,” Weatherston said. “Our approach reduces gaps in care and inconsistent patient journeys. Having near real-time access to data also opens up new ways to leverage that data, allowing for accurate and timely population health trend monitoring and innovation in the industry overall.”
Smile sells its health data platform — which is built on international Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards — to providers, payers, digital health vendors and researchers. The platform gives customers the ability to store, search and evaluate patient information.
Smile’s data platform includes multiple layers. For example, it includes functionalities for storing and cataloging healthcare data, as well as enabling permitted parties to access that information. The platform also provides clinical reasoning tools to assess whether a patient’s care plan needs to be changed.
“The health data fabric platform is designed to help move healthcare from a pre-internet technology model to a post-internet one. This means we operate at internet scale in terms of numbers of people, amount of data, transaction volumes and stringent security,” Weatherston said.
Smile makes all of its capabilities available as both apps and web services because its customer base consists of technical and non-technical teams, he pointed out. Weatherston said this makes Smile’s platform unique, but he acknowledged that there are other companies selling similar healthcare data platforms, such as 1upHealth, Health Samurai and Firely.
While customers could pick these competitors’ software over Smile’s, Weatherston said he’s glad that these companies exist alongside his. In his view, healthcare’s data fragmentation problem is so severe that it’s a good thing there’s plenty of startups tackling the issue.
“We think that health information should be free. We think that the transformation of healthcare from pre-internet to post-internet will be such a large creation of net value in terms of services and capabilities that the small profit associated with data aggregation and data silos isn’t worth it. So for us, our real competition is the status quo and the way that this information is being used today,” Weatherston said.
Smile declined to name individual clients due to confidentiality reasons, but Weatherston declared that the company’s customers include some of the largest lab companies in the U.S., as well as leading health plans, health systems, and medical device companies.
Photo: Ksenia Zvezdina, Getty Images