Babylon Health leads a $30M Series B in US health kiosk operator, Higi

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UK-based AI chatbot Babylon Health — which last year raised $550M at a $2BN+ valuation — has led a $30M Series B in US-based Higi, which owns and operates 10,000+ FDA-cleared health kiosks.

Higi, which was founded back in 2012 per Crunchbase, has built out a nationwide network of “health stations” located at retail locations such as groceries and pharmacies within 5 miles of 73% of the US population, where users can check their blood pressure, pulse, weight and BMI for free.

It also offers apps for users to track health measurements and input fitness data — giving it access to rich data streams that can inform healthcare workflows for its partners.

Its privacy policy notes that it may combine users personal data with other sources of their data it obtains, and may ‘anonymize and aggregate’ user data to use the health information for any purpose — illustrating why a data-hungry AI startup like Babylon sees valuable strategic potential in ploughing dollars into Higi, as it seeks to build out its own US business.

Higi says its kiosks have been used by 62M people in North America to date, conducting more than 372M biometric tests. Babylon’s investment in the company will go on supporting the expansion and “enhancement” of this network, including further development of digital capabilities, assessments and programs, the pair said today.

Babylon is not disclosing the size of its strategic investment in Higi’s Series B. Existing investors from the latter’s Series A also participated, including 7Wire Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, Jumpstart Capital, Rush University Medical Center for Health and William Wrigley Jr.

A spokeswoman for Babylon said it’s the first official US investment it has made but said it’s hopeful that “more strategic investments and partnerships” will follow to help extend its reach in the US.

“By offering a bundled care solution that combines Babylon’s symptom checking and remote digital health tools with Higi’s consumer reach and assessment capabilities, the companies will together be able to offer a more end-to-end solution to meet the needs of payers, providers and retailers on the front lines of care delivery,” the pair said in a press release.

“Higi’s Smart Health Stations are already located in thousands of towns across North America, and by integrating Babylon’s digital first healthcare services into Higi’s station experience, we can make the healthcare services that people need that much more accessible and affordable across North America,” said Babylon CEO and founder Dr Ali Parsa in a statement.

He goes on to talk up the tie-up as supporting “the everyday support of a person’s health and wellbeing” — claiming it places “greater emphasis on prevention and tackling issues earlier [by] helping millions of people proactively tend to their health and connect them to the information and medical support they need”.

“With Babylon as one of our investors and strategic partners, we are beautifully positioned to drive real change in the delivery of primary care across the U.S.,” added Higi CEO Jeff Bennett in another supporting statement. “Our commitment is to provide consumers, anywhere they might be in, with smart medical tools like unique diagnostics to support their health and wellbeing.

“Our partnership with Babylon broadens our clinical capabilities and ability to support consumers with acute medical problems or those with chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, thereby allowing us to better meet the needs of payors, retailers and health systems. The U.S. healthcare system has many virtues, but it is simply too expensive and hard for consumers to access care. Together, we will get patients to the right care, faster and far less expensively.”

Babylon begun a push into the US market this year, launching officially on January 1. Currently it provides access to “healthcare services” via its app to members of certain health plans in Missouri, New York and California. Earlier this month, for example, it partnered with Mount Sinai Health Partners to offer an insurance-covered telehealth option for New Yorkers which includes video consultations with physicians.

Last month, Business Insider reported that Babylon had furloughed 5% of its staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic, tapping into a scheme which sees the UK government covering up to 80% of the pay of furloughed workers.





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