Patient engagement startup raises $15 million from Google’s Gradient Ventures

Klara, a New York-based healthcare startup that pitches itself as a better tool for patient engagement for doctor’s offices and other clinical practices, has raised $15 million in new financing. 

The money comes as investors continue to pour cash into companies developing new communications, diagnostics and management tools for medical offices as patients look for more virtual care options.

For Simon Bolz and his co-founder Simon Lorenz, the aspect of Klara’s business that differentiates it from its many, many competitors is the company’s emphasis on putting patient communications at the center of its user interface.

“The other products, maybe they started with intake or payments and they added messaging as an add-on. Building it that way, like others do, is not the most engaging way,” says Bolz.

Klara focuses on independent practices and practice groups beginning with dermatologists, but the company’s services work with any medical practice.

Integrations with EHRs and communication history are table stakes for most patient engagement services these days, and Klara offers those. The company works through a portal on a mobile web browser. Patients are sent a link via text and then interact with the service via text messaging.

It’s that text messaging component that attracted Google’s Gradient Ventures, according to Bolz. The company wants to automate more and more of the medical process and is going to rely on natural language processing technologies to do it.

“We are going more and more into automation. We have started to automate a lot of these processes, integrating with EHRs and practice management systems,” Bolz said. 

Darian Shirazi, a general partner at Gradient Ventures, and Navid Farzad, a partner at Frist Cressey Ventures, will both take seats on the Klara board.

“The traditional physician practice must transform to improve communication and engagement with their patients — especially in a post-COVID world. Existing practice technology infrastructure is inadequate. Klara’s seamless solution modernizes the practice infrastructure without disrupting workflows,” said Farzad in a statement.