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Despite the economic slowdown caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a handful of startups have still managed to raise funding. One of them is AristaMD, a San Diego-based digital health company that facilitates virtual consults, allowing primary care physicians to connect to their specialist peers for advice.

The company closed an $18 million series B round led by Cigna Ventures and MemorialCare Innovation Fund, the investing arm of Los Angeles-based MemorialCare Health System. Other participating investors include Avalon Ventures, CU Healthcare Innovation Fund and Stanford Health Care.

“We feel lucky that we can go on to do what we do in the midst of this,” AristaMD CEO Brooke LeVasseur said. “I’m really grateful because I think if we had been in any other space, (the pandemic) could have ground everything to a halt. What gave our investors confidence to move forward … was being able to see we could be part of this crisis, part of the solution.”

Brant Heise, managing director of the MemorialCare Innovation Fund, said the eConsults were a useful tool to handle long wait times for specialist referrals.

“AristaMD’s eConsult solution provides a mechanism to better match the acuity level and clinical needs of the patient with the right provider and setting,” he said in a news release.

AristaMD currently has about 35 full-time employees. With the new funding, it plans to build out its commercial team and expand the use of its eConsult platform. The startup currently sells its systems to health plans, which offer eConsults as a benefit to their members, giving them access to specialists that contract with AristaMD. It also sells to health systems, which use its platform to make it easier for their physicians to collaborate.

LeVasseur said eConsults are particularly good for situations where a patient might want to see a specialist, but not for an urgent matter or a surgical procedure. For example, physicians using AristaMD’s platform often look for advice from dermatologists in identifying and treating different types of rashes or lesions. LeVasseur said the company also gets several requests for behavioral health consults, with an uptick in demand since the pandemic started.

“Some of these employees who are still going to work, there’s a higher level of anxiety and stress,” she said.

Other commonly-requested specialties include cardiology, orthopedics and endocrinology. LeVasseur said that more than 70% of the time, primary care physicians that use AristaMD say they were able to treat their patient without a referral.

“It’s important because there’s always been an issue with access in this country,” LeVasseur said. “A big chunk of our consults are for Medicaid, under-insured and uninsured patients. They can’t get access to specialty care. For those patients, this is such an important service we can provide.”

Photo credit: nito100, Getty Images



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