Mar 21, 2023 - Business

Bionic Health raises $3M to fund personalized medicine startup

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new Durham health care startup has raised $3 million from investors to deliver personalized care to patients.

Driving the news: Bionic Health, which had operated in stealth mode until this funding round, is led by serial entrepreneurs Robbie Allen, a machine learning expert, and Jared Pelo, who is a doctor. The investment comes from Durham's IDEA Fund Partners, the Triangle Tweener Fund and several others.

  • Allen sold his previous company Automated Insights for $80 million in 2015.
  • Pelo's virtual medical scribe startup iScribes was acquired in 2017 by Nuance Communications. Nuance was later bought by Microsoft, where Pelo most recently worked.

What it does: Bionic is built with the idea that an annual physical is an outdated way to do preventative care.

  • The startup wants to put patients through several health tests and studies a year that gathers real-time health data and lab tests — from family history to things like you VO2max — to get a big picture understanding of their health. Its programs place an emphasis on slowing down aging.
  • From that data, it then designs personalized health plans and assigns a health coach to help patients implement any lifestyle changes that could be helpful.

What they're saying: "We firmly believe that the annual physical is a relic," Allen told Axios. "If you really want to know how your body's functioning, doing a limited snapshot once a year is just not adequate in any way. It needs to be more common, more frequent."

  • Allen noted he's been wearing wearable devices that track health for years — but a doctor has never looked at it. He wants Bionic to incorporate wearable data.
  • "There's all this data that's now accessible and available … and more data is going to be accessible," he said.

Details: Bionic already has around 20 patients in a beta program and maintains a physical clinic in south Durham.

  • The company is hoping to use artificial intelligence to automate much of its workflow and communications.
  • It also won't do any primary care work, at least at this point, and will only focus on preventative care.

A membership to Bionic will cost $250 a month, making it a potentially expensive proposition. Allen said the goal is to lower costs over time.

  • "Ultimately we're shooting for an outcome where we are delivering this to the masses, not to just the few privileged people that can afford it today," he said.
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