Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met during an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they developed a shared desire to apply AI speech technologies in healthcare. Specifically, they sought to automate the routine messages and calls that often lead to administrative burnout, such as scheduling calls, refilling prescriptions, and searching physician lists.
Several years after graduating, Krush and Cohen fleshed out their ideas with Hyro, which uses AI to enable text and voice conversations over the internet, call centers and apps between healthcare organizations and their customers. Hyro announced today that it has raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Liberty Mutual, Macquarie Capital and Black Opal, bringing the startup’s total amount raised to $35 million.
Krush says the new money will be used to expand Hyro’s go-to-market teams and R&D.
“When we searched for an area that would benefit most from transforming these technologies, we found and validated that healthcare, with staff shortages and outdated processes, had the greatest need and pain points, and we continued to focus on these specific areas. industry,” Krush told businessroundups.org in an email interview.
According to Krush, the healthcare sector is facing a major staff shortage, exacerbated by the logistical complications that arose during the pandemic. In a recent interview with Keona Health, Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), said MGMAs have heard that 88% of medical practices have had difficulty recruiting front-of-office staff in the past year. According to another estimate, the health care system has lost 20% of its hair workforce.
Hyro does not attempt to replace staff members. But it do inject automation into the equation. The platform is essentially a drop-in replacement for traditional IVR systems, handling calls and texts automatically using conversational AI.
Hyro can answer frequently asked questions and handle tasks such as booking or reschedule an appointment, while providing engagement and conversion metrics on the backend.
Plenty of platforms do – or at least claim to. See RedRoute, a voice-based conversational AI startup that offers an “Alexa-like” customer service experience over the phone. Elsewhere, there’s Omilia, which offers a calling solution that works across all platforms (e.g. phone, web chat, social networks, SMS and more) and integrates with existing customer support systems.
But Krush claims that Hyro is differentiated. First, he says, it offers an AI-powered search that scrapes up-to-date information from a customer’s website — supposedly to avoid wrong answers to questions (a notorious problem with text-generating AI). Hyro also has ‘smart routing’, which allows it to ‘intelligently’ decide whether to complete a task automatically, send a link to self-service via SMS or forward a request to the right department.
“Our AI assistants have been used by tens of millions of patients and automate conversations across channels,” said Krush. “Hyro creates a feedback loop by identifying missing knowledge gaps, essentially mimicking the activities of a call center agent. It also shows in a conversation exactly how the AI assistant derived the correct answer to a patient or customer question, meaning that if incorrect answers were given, an enterprise can understand exactly which piece of content or dataset has been mislabeled and correct accordingly.
Of course, no technology is perfect, and Hyro’s is probably no exception to the rule. But the startup’s sales pitch was enough to win dozens of healthcare networks, providers and hospitals as customers, including Weill Cornell Medicine. Annual recurring revenue has doubled since Hyro launched in 2019, Krush claims.
Hyro’s future plans include expanding into industries bordering healthcare, including real estate and the public sector, and complementing the platform with more customization options, business optimization recommendations, and “variety” in the AI skills Hyro supports.
“The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation for healthcare and made the problems we solve very clear and obvious (e.g., the spike in calls around information, access to testing, etc.),” said Krush. “We were one of the first to offer a COVID-19 virtual assistant that was deployed within 48 hours based on trusted information from the health system and trusted sources such as the CDC and the World Health Organization…. Hyro is well-funded, with good growth and momentum, and we’ve always managed a responsible budget, so we’re actually looking to expand and gain more market share as competitors slow down.