Call9 raises $10M for emergency care video visits, starting with nursing homes

By Aditi Pai
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Call9, which offers emergency care via video visits to nursing homes, raised $10 million in a round led by Index Ventures with participation from Y Combinator Partner Ali Rowghani, previously an exec at Pixar and Twitter; Palantir Cofounder Joe Lonsdal; and 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.

Call9's video visits service connects nursing home patients to an emergency room doctor. The company sets up the system in nursing home facilities and provides them with the mobile devices preloaded with their software. When a resident has a concern, the facility's nurse brings the tablet to them to make a call to a doctor on Call9’s system.

Doctors who provide care through Call9 are contract workers. The nursing homes pay Call9 a subscription fee for the service.

The company’s founders, Celina Tenev, previously a Stanford School of Medicine postdoctoral fellow in radiology, and Timothy Peck, who worked as an emergency medicine doctor at Harvard Medical School, met when they were working part time at another startup they co-founded, a medical search startup called Parzival that appears to no longer be in operation.

Tenev and Peck then joined startup accelerator Y Combinator in June of last year, and, according to Tenev, on July 15th they saw their first patient. During a three month period, in a pilot with about 264 patients, Call9 prevented trips to the ER in 55 percent of patients who used the service, they said.

“We were really interested in this type of medicine called prehospital care, so what happens to you between 911 until the time you see a doctor,” Tenev told MobiHealthNews. “And on average that’s over an hour. We were really interested in why does this take an hour? We started studying the 911 system in great detail. We started riding in the back of ambulances, we started getting all the data and saying, ‘Hey this doesn’t really make sense. Why should seeing a doctor be the last step in an emergency? Isn’t that the person you want to see first if you were in an emergency medical situation?’”

Some 45 percent of hospitalizations that occur from nursing homes are considered avoidable, Peck told MobiHealthNews. He added that two thirds of trips to the emergency department from nursing homes are considered avoidable.

“If you go into any hospital and you look at all those avoidable hospitalizations, all the people there that could have been avoided, a little under 80 percent of those people are from nursing homes,” Peck said. “That’s why we got so interested in the nursing home space. Because it was the nursing home people and patients who were using the 911 system and the ambulance system the most. It wasn’t their fault, it’s not the nursing homes fault either, they just didn’t have systems in place to be able to avoid these hospitalizations.”