Biofourmis, a Boston startup that makes technology to remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions and dangerous diagnoses, announced Thursday that it has taken in $100 million in new investment to help it advance products in the fields of cardiology, respiratory, oncology, and pain management.
The company, which moved to downtown Boston from Singapore last year, uses wearable sensors to understand patients’ vital signs and help doctors make decisions about their care from afar. This year, Biofourmis has also joined the battle against COVID-19, creating a system that uses artificial intelligence software to look for early signs of the viral illness.
Biofourmis CEO Kuldeep Singh Rajput said in an interview that the pandemic has helped show the value of remote monitoring technologies — not just for combating the coronavirus, but for other conditions that are generally evaluated through in-person visits. With many medical visits canceled or delayed to limit the spread of the virus, doctors and patients have been looking for ways to manage their conditions from a distance.
“There was a need for more comprehensive digital solutions and digital therapies to remotely monitor patients at their homes, in their settings, so that clinicians — even when they have to call — have a meaningful conversation with the patient and actually focus on clinical care,” Rajput said. “That was a significant change in the market.”
The shift has led to a rush into the field by research groups, startups, and legacy companies that are looking for ways to help hospitals free up space in the event of a pandemic emergency, and to take advantage of the cultural shift that is taking place because of the rise of telemedicine.
The company’s products include a collaboration with the medical giant Novartis, which uses a wearable electronic armband to monitor patients with heart failure. Data such as a patient’s heart rate and oxygen saturation can help a doctor make a decision remotely about how much medicine to prescribe. And the company is working on other applications in which patients can adapt their own behavior based on their vital signs.
Biofourmis has 140 employees, 35 of which are based in Boston. The company has now raised $145 million in total venture investment.
The latest round of funding includes money from the SoftBank Vision Fund, a massive investor whose huge checks have shaken up the venture industry in recent years — sometimes with disappointing results, such as its big bet on WeWork — and can help elevate its portfolio companies’ standing in emerging fields.
In 2018, an earlier iteration of the Vision Fund put $500 million into Cambridge Mobile Telematics, which uses data from smartphones and other electronics to measure how drivers behave. The fund’s parent company, Japan’s SoftBank Group, also owns high-profile robotics company Boston Dynamics. Its other portfolio companies in Boston include cybersecurity company Cybereason.
“We believe Biofourmis is a leader in using AI and machine learning-based solutions to advance digital therapeutics,” Greg Moon, managing partner with SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement.