founder's new AI platform for emergency departments lands $5.2M in funding

Ten years ago, Aaron Patzer sold his financial services startup to Intuit for $170 million.

Now the internet entrepreneur is getting into the healthcare space with an artificial intelligence-based software platform for emergency departments aimed at reducing wait times, identifying high-risk patients and improving efficiency.

Patzer's new company, Vital, announced its launch today along with a $5.2 million seed funding round led by First Round Capital and Threshold Ventures (formerly DFJ Ventures). Additional participation also came from Bragiel Brothers, Meridian Street Capital, Refactor Capital and SV Angel.

Angel investment came from Vivek Garipalli, CEO of CloverHealth, as well as Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, founders of Flatiron Health. Patzer also invested $1 million of his own money prior to this round, according to a release.

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Vital is a cloud-based software platform that sits on top of a hospital's existing electronic health record (EHR), according to the company. It uses AI and natural language processing (NLP) to predict admissions hours in advance, reducing length-of-stay and saving hospitals time and money with improved ED flow. Essentially, the software can triage patients before they see a doctor, according to the company.

"Doctors and nurses often put more time into paperwork and data entry than patient care. Vital uses smart, easy tech to reverse that, cutting wait times in half, reducing provider burnout and saving hospitals millions of dollars," said Patzer, the company's CEO, in a statement.

Patzer's decision to take on ED technology came after seeing firsthand the antiquated software hospitals use, according to a press release. He teamed up with Justin Schrager, doctor of emergency medicine at Emory University Hospital, who serves as the company's chief medical officer, to design the software.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was well-intentioned, Patzer said in a statement, "but now hospitals rely on outdated, slow, and inefficient software. And nowhere is it more painful than in the emergency room."

Vital is not Patzer's first foray into healthcare. He was the founder and CEO of Fountain, a platform that provided consumers with expert opinions, including medical opinions. Fountain was sold to in 2015 for an undisclosed amount. Patzer also has been an investor in other digital health startups including HealthTap, Carbon Health and Radix Health, which makes scheduling software for physician practices.

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“Vital successfully built software with a modern, no-training-required interface, while also meeting HIPAA compliance. It’s what people expect from consumer software, but rarely see in healthcare,” Josh Kopelman, founder and partner at First Round Capital, who will join Vital’s board of directors, said in a statement. “Turning massive amounts of complex and regulated data into clean, easy products is what did for money, and we’re proud to back a solution that’ll do the same in life and death situations.”