Chiron Health Adds $1M in Seed Funds for Physician Video Chat System

Austin—Chiron Health, a telemedicine company with a system developed to let doctors and meet and chat with patients over video, has added about $1 million in equity funding to its seed round, according to CEO Andrew O’Hara.

The company added the funding in early October, and it brings Chiron’s total seed round to $4.7 million, O’Hara says. Chiron raised its first $2.3 million in December, which it announced along with the launch of apps for the iPhone and iPad. It added an Android app in May.

Part of the increase was because of convertible debt that has since been converted into equity, he says, declining to provide further detail.

Chiron is one of many digital health companies with offerings that connect physicians and patients, aiming to limit the complications of visiting a doctor’s office for something simple like a checkup or for lab results. The three-year-old startup focuses on small and mid-size practices.

Other startups with similar tools include San Francisco-based Spruce, which focuses on dermatologists, and Vidyo, a Hackensack, NJ-based company focused on helping people in rural areas chat with doctors. Adoption of telemedicine physicians and insurers has been slow, even as more physicians say they’re willing to use it.

O’Hara says he believes some of the hesitation to use video visits is based in a fear that insurers will only reimburse physicians offices for in-person visits. More insurers are reimbursing for telemedicine, O’Hara says, and helping physicians learn if they’ll be able to be reimbursed is part of Chiron’s value pitch.

Like other telemedicine companies, Chiron can integrate with major electronic health record systems, such as athenahealth, CloudCare, and Greenway. But Chiron’s software is able to check patient data against state and federal regulations about insurance reimbursement—the company calls it a “rules engine”—to make sure that a physician’s office will be reimbursed for video visit, O’Hara says.

If Chiron’s software says that a doctor can get a reimbursement from a patient’s insurer for a video chat visit, but it doesn’t work out for some reason, O’Hara says Chiron will pay for it. The company’s system is secure and HIPPA-compliant, he says.

“We’ve had some great traction in the last 12 to 18 months, and a big part of it is that the major payers out there are realizing that this is something that makes sense to be paying at similar level to in-person consultations,” O’Hara says. “We’re checking individual eligibility to the point where we guarantee reimbursement.”

Patients’ normal co-pay applies as if it were an in-person visit, O’Hara says. Chiron charges the doctor’s office a monthly subscription fee, but doesn’t list pricing publicly. O’Hara said the price depends on the number of doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners who might use it. He declined to say how much the company is making, but said it is generating revenue.

With 20 full-time employees, O’Hara says the company may look for another venture capital round next year to grow more. The company was nominated by Capital Factory as one of five “A-List” startups that’s ready for a Series A round in March 2015. One of its existing investors is New York-based Axa Strategic Ventures.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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