Orbita, which provides conversational AI-powered voice and chatbot solutions for health care, today announced that it has raised $9 million. CEO Bill Rogers says the funding will be used to expand the company’s reach as it supports engagement and marketing in the life sciences market.

The demand for triaging technologies like conversational bots has risen substantially as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, which isn’t surprising. Millions of patients wait at least two hours to see a provider, according to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tech giants including IBM, Facebook, and Microsoft have partnered with governments and private industry to roll out chatbot-based solutions, as have a number of startups, but Orbita claims its products were tailor-made for health care use cases.

Orbita’s customers include high-profile names like the American Red Cross, Amgen, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Cognizant, the Mayo Clinic, and Merck. And Orbita says it runs all of its chatbots’ information past medical professionals, drawing on CDC guidelines. It also has agreements in place to provide access to content from trusted partners such as the Mayo Clinic, and its in-house clinical team prioritizes the use of that content, which it claims is vetted by “leading institutions.”

Orbita

Orbita says that in the past few months it has responded to an “unprecedented” number of requests related to COVID-19, from existing and prospective customers around the globe. In March, it announced a free chatbot designed to automate symptom-screening and question-answering services using content sourced from the CDC. More recently, the company released additional capabilities to address the evolving demands of the pandemic, including automated health monitoring for patients, employees, and other at-risk populations.

Orbita’s OrbitaEngage platform lets customers deploy not only chatbots but voice search, making it easier to find doctors, medical locations, services, and activities as it deflects inquiries away from call centers and places patients in virtual waiting rooms. OrbitaEngage performs search engine optimization, ensuring providers’ content is formatted and discoverable by assistants like Google Assistant. And it answers basic questions like “I have a rash on my arm, what should I do?” and “Are there any pediatric ENTs that are within 20 miles?”

Orbita also offers what it claims is the world’s first end-to-end HIPAA-compliant, voice-enabled virtual assistant in OrbitaAssist, which facilitates hands-free communication for patients and care teams with backend analytics, alerts, and escalation, along with electronic health record integration. Developed in partnership with nurses, it aims to eliminate unnecessary bedside trips by confirming patient requests, combating social isolation, and routing patient and care worker requests. It also offers educational resources, surveys, and assessment tools.

Orbita

Orbita’s complementary OrbitaConnect tool is a virtual assistant for chronic, pre-, and post-visit care continuity. Customers get experience templates for health care coaching, medication reminders, question answering, and assessments and can deploy virtual text, voice, or touch assistants across smart speakers, mobile, web apps, and other vectors. Meanwhile, a flexible integration framework incorporates electronic health records, custom and third-party content services, population health systems, and health dictionaries and ontologies.

Customers in need of fine-grained customization can tap Orbita Prototype, which enables no-code testing of conversational dialogues for voice and chat that can be shared with project stakeholders and end users. There’s also Orbita Experience Designer, a drag-and-drop design tool with prebuilt components that work with existing enterprise systems, and Orbita Answers, a knowledge management framework for building conversational apps that emphasize question answering.

Philips Health Technology Ventures co-led the funding round with HealthX Ventures and participation from Cultivation Capital and Newark Venture Partners. The round brings five-year-old Boston-based Orbita’s total raised to over $16.5 million.

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