Healthcare technology veteran Jonathan Bush describes the industry’s endless repetition of medical information as “a lethal game of telephone.” That persistent problem is why he founded Zus Health in 2020, he said in a recent interview. Zus is a health data platform that provides patient information at the point of care.
“We have found a way to crack not just the technology blockers to this age-old vex, but the regulatory and market ones as well,” Bush declared.
Investors seem to be on board with this mission. Last week, Zus closed a $40 million funding round with participation from JAZZ Venture Partners, F-Prime Capital, Maverick Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
The company’s platform is centered on the Zus Aggregated Profile (ZAP), which delivers a comprehensive and actionable view of a patients’ health data. ZAP collects data from a number of sources, such as electronic health records, pharmacies and local health departments.
“[Zus] is not unique because of the data we get. Some day, it might be, but today the data we get can legally be accessed from lots of places. What’s unique is that we make it useful via the Zus Aggregated Profile. We deduplicate it. We enrich it with missing codes and other logical gaps. We inject it into the workflow in summarized useful bites. We also watch it through the night and alert you to changes in it that you care about,” Bush explained.
His company sells its platform to healthcare providers, most of which are frustrated with the duplicated and unstructured nature of their patient data, he said. The more that a healthcare organization’s business model depends on staying in the know about their patients’ care, the more profitable a Zus relationship will be, Bush declared. Because of this, accountable care players are of particular interest to Zus, he stated.
In addition to the close of its funding round, Zus also announced a partnership with Elation Healtha company that sells its EHR and other technology solutions to primary care providers. Elation will be integrating ZAP into its own data collaboration systems.
“Zus’ fondest wish is to be known as the EHR’s best friend. Elation profits from helping providers make more money delivering better care. We hope offering its clients an always-on picture of all care will allow Elation to gain market share as well as wallet share. Zus is an upsell for Elation, and we hope that they make a fortune on revenue share dollars from us. Their customers are hungry for easy-to-use data and we have the data,” Bush declared.
Though Bush is certainly confident about his company’s ability to help providers make better use of their data, there are other companies that also promise to do the same. For example, Vim Health and Connective Health have also centered their businesses on providing clinicians with easy-to-understand patient data summaries at the point of care. Bush said he isn’t familiar their work.
He identified providers that wish to build their own management systems for patient data histories as Zus’ true competitor. But he noted that it is difficult for a healthcare provider to create code for their own patient history engine — it requires software engineers, medical informaticists and data pipe companies.
Amid healthcare’s burnout crisis, most providers don’t have time for this laborious process. This is a key reason why Zus has found success in a tough fundraising environment.
“Imagine a battlefield after the battle and wide-eyed young officers walk among the bodies, shooting the wounded and saving the few they think might live,” Bush said when asked to describe the current fundraising landscape.
He said that this funding round took longer than previous ones, which is unsurprising given the lack of funds in the healthcare investment pool. The figurative lips of Zus are “green from kissing frogs,” but Bush said the company is very happy with the investor prince(s) it got in the end.
“My former company, athenahealthonly raised $42 million prior to IPO, but athena had a very forgiving short-term business model, even if a little challenging for long-term scale. When athena finally cracked its own code, we still had to sell Russian-army style — practice-by-practice, proposal-by-proposal, implementation-by-implementation. Zus, on the other hand, once mature, is a setting that one merely flicks on to buy,” Bush declared.
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