AI startup Olive raises $225M, acquires Verata Health to address prior authorization

It's been a big week for health tech startup Olive.

First, officials at the "AI as a service" healthcare platform announced it raised a $225.5 million funding round led by Tiger Global and joined by General Catalyst, Drive Capital and Silicon Valley Bank. It brings the company's overall funding to $385 million over the last nine months and $448 million since the company was founded.

Then on Thursday, officials revealed they also acquired Verata Health, a provider of artificial intelligence software, as part of a plan to tackle the costly issue of prior authorization.

The purchase came about because Olive was looking to work with a company that specialized in attaining authorization on the insurer’s side for procedures like an MRI or CT scan, officials said. The requirement for healthcare practices to seek prior authorization for critical tests and medical procedures leads to provider burnout, long phone wait times and many canceled appointments from authorization not being obtained.

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Verata offers a software platform called Frictionless Prior Authorization that helps with initiating prior authorizations and retrieving payer rules by connecting to leading electronic health record (EHR) databases in the U.S.

“To close the loop with the payer side, the insurance company, we needed to find someone with expertise in really parsing out all the clinical data—the medical records, being able to read them, understand them and use them to ultimately get authorization,” Olive CEO Sean Lane told Fierce Healthcare.

The launch of Verata positions Olive as an end-to-end solution for both payers and providers. That “allows us to stand down the armies as far as the administrative burdens we've placed on both ends,” Lane said.

Jeremy Friese, M.D., CEO of Verata, will become payer market president at Olive, which will incorporate Verata’s technology under the parent company’s name.

“Combining our AI solution with Olive’s creates the leading platform to solve prior authorization on ‘both ends of the fax machine’ at providers and payers to drive impact for millions of patients,” Friese said in a statement.

In addition, the acquisition will completely automate the entire healthcare workflow, including interacting with patients, seeking authorizations for procedures, documenting the approvals in EHRs and submitting claims, according to Lane.

Olive grows its AI portfolio

Verata joins a growing lineup of AI platforms at Olive. These capabilities include machine learning, deep learning, computer vision and natural language processing, Lane said.

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With its recent financing, Olive is investing in AlphaSites, which are on-site command centers that deploy and manage AI workers to help large health systems automate clinical tasks.

“These AI workers are essentially working in the cloud, working asynchronously oftentimes at night, doing big-batch processes and helping the health systems increase their capacity,” Lane said.

Oct. 12 at the HLTH VRTL conference, Olive introduced its Olive Helps platform to provide real-time intelligence to healthcare employees. Olive Helps uses AI to speed up billing and patient verification.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company launched in 2012 when Lane sold a software startup in the defense industry.