Israeli startup Navina, which uses medically informed AI to make sense of the exponentially increasing amounts of data that primary care physicians are overwhelmed by, was founded by Ronen Lavi and Shay Perera. The duo previously established and led the AI lab of Israel’s renowned intelligence unit in the IDF, where they built real-time decision support systems for frontline decision-makers who were suffering from data overload. But you might ask yourselves, what on earth do data front-line decisions for the IDF have to do with a physician care startup? The answer is simple: the founders saw a problem and knew how they could fix it.

How it began

After their military careers, both Lavi and Perera were trying to determine their next steps. They wanted to stay in the realm of tech, but they wanted to focus on technology that would make a real impact. In a conversation with Geektime, Lavi and Perera explained to us how exactly they decided to focus on primary care. “My father-in-law, Micha, had been complaining about back pain and sleep issues. Even though he visited his family doctor every few months, the pain continued. Eventually, when none of the prescribed courses of treatment worked to alleviate his symptoms, a closer look was taken at Micha’s health records, revealing that an abnormal test result had been overlooked. A series of subsequent tests showed that he had prostate cancer,” Perera explained.

Ronen Lavi and Shay Perera

He went on to say that this experience enlightened them about the problem that plagues physicians everywhere: they are drowning in data regarding point-of-care decisions. They, therefore, took it upon themselves to address this issue and help physicians overcome it. They wanted to not only alleviate physician burnout but also impact millions of lives. And so, they founded Navina.

Navina aims to improve population health, be it patient experience or clinician well-being and productivity–both of which have positive economic effects. Essentially, the platform is uniquely able to put exactly the right information in front of physicians at the right time, to give them both a deep understanding of their patients and actionable insights at the point of care. They take comprehensive patient histories from different sources, and with that data, display a more concise understanding of the patient. This ensures that critical decision-making data is not missed, like what happened in the case of Perera's father-in-law.

Designed for and loved by physicians

Navina has proprietary AI, which can comprehend the specialized language of primary care and clinical workflows. Their “medically informed AI” essentially turns chaotic data which all physicians face, into a deep understanding of a patient's health status. Along the way, they are solving the interconnected problems of data overload, which also enables better healthcare. Without the burden of overwhelming data, physicians can perform better and more empathetic care, have sounder treatment outcomes, reduce missed diagnoses, and thereby meet the responsibilities they have to their communities. As Jennifer Hohman, MD and Family Physician and Board Chair of NOMS Healthcare, who uses the product stated: “Navina was life-changing for me... It is absolutely amazing to have a patient portrait of my patient when I walk into the room. Using Navina is like having another physician at my side. A partner who can instantly read through the entire record – including every consult or discharge note - and then give me only the data I need, so that I don’t miss anything.”

Navina's Interface. Credit: Navina

This past year, the Navina platform expanded its footprint to include not only physicians but also their supporting staff, aligning workflows across all stakeholders in their common goal of effectively serving their patient populations and improving value-based care. The company has added thousands of new users in the primary care market which drove a 10-fold increase in revenue for Navina over the last six months. Moreover, a recent report by the Innovation Lab of the American Academy of Family Physicians found that Navina increases diagnosis accuracy as well as reduces pre-visit preparation time by a significant 61 percent.

Today (Thursday), Navina announced a $22 million Series B funding round, led by ALIVE Israel HealthTech Fund, with participation from existing investors Grove Ventures, Vertex Ventures Israel, and Schusterman Family Investments. It is no secret that the current market situation has made it difficult for startups to raise funds. Lavi chimed in, saying that these days, companies need to prove themselves more than ever before: “In the current reality, investors are expecting companies to prove not only that they are compelling in vision and potential, but also that they could demonstrate sustainable, repeatable growth. Our substantial growth in the primary care market, demonstrated both by thousands of new users on the platform and near 10x growth in revenue since our Series A round equipped us well for the discussions leading to the closure of our current fundraising.”

The new funding will be used to accelerate the growth and adoption of Navina’s platform among U.S. physician groups and the enterprise healthcare market. Moreover, the company will continue to invest in its AI technology and clinical algorithms and expand its integration of more emerging data sources. When I asked Lavi if they had plans to focus on other healthcare markets outside of the United States, he said “The U.S. health system is one of, if not the most, overburdened in the world; we believe that there is plenty to do to realize our vision in the U.S. where the need is great, and we have an opportunity to touch the lives of many. That being said, data overload is a universal issue as new health innovations are adopted worldwide, exponentially growing the amount of available clinical data that is overwhelming clinicians.” So, I guess we will have to wait and see.

Credit: Daron Lechter

Navina was founded in 2018 by Ronen Lavi (CEO) and Shay Perera (CTO). They are headquartered in Tel Aviv, with 65 employees. To date, they have raised $44 million.