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| June 4, 2020

Babylon Leads Higi Funding In First U.S. Investment

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world. Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

Chicago-based health kiosk operator, Higi, has raised $30 million in a Series B financing led by Babylon Health, a British company popular for its artificial intelligence chatbot.

Other participants in the funding round include Higi’s Series A investors: 7Wire Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, Jumpstart Capital, Rush University System for Health and William Wrigley Jr.

Higi beautifully positioned after fund raise

In a statement, Babylon Health said Higi, whose health kiosks are found in retail pharmacies and grocery shops, will use the cash infusion to deepen its effectiveness and expand the reach of care offered through the Chicago startup’s Smart Health Stations and digital programming.

Ali Parsa, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Babylon, said they were impressed by Higi’s mission of making health more accessible and convenient.

“Higi’s Smart Health Stations are already located in thousands of towns across North America, and by integrating Babylon’s digital first healthcare services into Higi’s station experience, we can make the healthcare services that people need that much more accessible and affordable across North America. Whether it be for chronic conditions, which already place a heavy burden on patients and the healthcare system, to the everyday support of a person’s health and wellbeing, Babylon and Higi’s offerings place greater emphasis on prevention and tackling issues earlier, helping millions of people proactively tend to their health and connect them to the information and medical support they need,” said Parsa.

Jeff Bennett, CEO of Higi, said Babylon’s investment makes the company “beautifully positioned” to drive real change in the delivery of primary care across the U.S. Bennett added that the partnership with Babylon broadened Higi’s clinical capabilities as well as its ability to support customers with acute medical problems or those with chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

“Our commitment is to provide consumers, anywhere they might be in, with smart medical tools like unique diagnostics to support their health and wellbeing. The U.S. healthcare system has many virtues, but it is simply too expensive and hard for consumers to access care. Together, we will get patients to the right care, faster and far less expensively,” said Bennet.

What Higi offers

Founded in 2012, Higi has more than 10,000 FDA-cleared self-service Smart Health Stations that serve as access points to help people learn about health conditions, assess their risks, and receive personalized recommendations for local care resources and services. The health kiosks are free to use and are complemented by a suite of digital programming focused on awareness, prevention, and condition management.

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Following the funding round, the health kiosks will offer a bundled care solution that combines Babylon’s symptom checking and remote digital health tools with Higi’s consumer reach and assessment capabilities, with the companies saying they will now offer a more end-to-end solution to meet the needs of payers, providers, and retailers on the front lines of care delivery.

The startup said its kiosks have been used by 47 million people to date. Higi has partnerships with Kroger, Giant Eagle, Rite Aid, and other grocery stores and retail pharmacies.

The FierceHealthcare website reports that Higi also partners with digital health companies in order to incorporate their tools and programs. Through a partnership with Livongo, users can determine their risk for chronic conditions and enroll in Livongo’s chronic condition management programs. The company also collaborated with startup Papa to provide health screenings and support to elderly seniors, the outlet reported.

In addition, Higi has partnered with the Rush University System to support health education and access to healthcare services in their communities. In this case, consumers can use Higi’s health screening to identify potential medical issues and then schedule follow-up appointments with Rush clinicians.

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Babylon’s first official U.S. investment

Last year, Babylon raised $550 million in a Series C financing, bringing its valuation to more than $2 billion. At the time, the company said this was the largest ever fundraiser in the European or U.S. digital health delivery sector. The company said it would use the cash injection to expand into the U.S. and Asia.

Babylon has made good on its promise.  A spokeswoman from the U.K. firm said this was the first official U.S. investment and they were hopeful that “more strategic investments and partnerships” will follow to help extend its reach in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Babylon Health entered into a 10-year partnership with Royal Wolverhampton National Health Services Trust (RWT) of the United Kingdom to create what they describe as the world’s first Digital-First Integrated Care to serve about 300,000 people living in Wolverhampton and its surrounding areas.

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