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These Under 30 Alums Raised $31 Million To Build A Shopify For Doctors And Dentists

Alamin Uddin dropped out of college to start building appointment booking software for small doctor offices. That wasn’t what he’d set out to do when he began his studies at the City College of New York, but while he considered going to medical school, he took a job as a receptionist at a doctor’s office. In that role, he became frustrated with the tedium of some of the aspects of his job, and put his coding skills to work automating some of those tasks to spare others the same aggravation.

Five years later, his company, NexHealth is offering a full suite of tools to help modernize both the front-end patient experience and back-end administrative processes at small and medium-sized dentist and doctor offices. The San Francisco, California-based startup takes inspiration from the e-commerce company Shopify, rather than existing electronic health records systems, which tend to be stodgy and unwieldy for the purposes small offices need them for. Just as Shopify helps small business owners manage their online stores to compete with mega-retailers, NexHealth offers a similar value proposition to small medical offices.

“Our ideal customer is an entrepreneur who just happens to be a doctor,” says Uddin, 27, who cofounded NexHealth with Waleed Asif, 28, both alums of the Forbes 30 Under 30 healthcare list. NexHealth’s platform helps with everything from marketing to online scheduling to new patient forms to payment. At the end of the visit, it reminds patients to leave a review and also sends a reminder to book future appointments. “We’re really helping these doctors and independent offices, to compete with the hospital systems and large institutions, and to modernize their businesses by giving them the same tools that everybody else has,” says Uddin.

NexHealth has also built the technical infrastructure so data can flow across the various electronic health records systems used by these practices, akin to the kind of connectivity Plaid offered the financial services industry. This is attractive for software developers at other healthcare startups, like SmileDirect Club or Quip, who want to direct patients to nearby medical or dental offices in real-time. On Tuesday, NexHealth announced a $31 million Series B, co-led by media mogul and founding partner of WndrCo Jeffrey Katzenberg and Mino Games founder-turned-angel investor Josh Buckley, at a $431 million valuation. The round comes less than a year after NexHealth closed a $15 million Series A.

“Whether it’s in a big city or small town, the software platform makes a doctor’s business more viable,” says Katzenberg. “For them to be able to be more productive and to have a more successful business is great. And, at the same time, it also really creates a much better patient experience.”

NexHealth already has around 75,000 customers—a mix of dentists, doctors and software developers—and is synchronizing around 30 million patient records every 5 seconds. “The sales side of this is the easier part because the product works,” says Katzenberg. The challenge ahead is using the capital infusion to build out the engineering team in order to scale the business. Uddin hopes to grow from around 30 software engineers today to 100 in the next year. NexHealth has a total of 120 employees.

The hospital space is dominated by three main electronic health record vendors—Epic Systems, Cerner and Meditech. But the around 700,000 small and medium-sized doctor and dentist practices are essentially the Wild West. Uddin estimates there are around 1,000 different tiny health record vendors, none with more than 3% market share. This makes it an absolute nightmare for digital health companies to try and connect with small to mid-sized offices. Uddin says NexHealth’s main goal is to have built connections with 50% of these electronic health record companies by 2022.

While many existing companies depend on health data sharing standards known as Hl7 or FHIR, NexHealth is operating entirely outside of the existing structure and has created its own proprietary system. It’s a bold but necessary move. “It’s really just a way to get around the gatekeepers and provide a better solution,” explains Uddin. The healthcare industry has been trying to solve this data sharing problem, known as interoperability, for two decades, but it’s still littered with roadblocks, even as new anti-data blocking regulations go into effect. “That’s the overall problem that we’re looking to solve, which is this lack of innovation in the space,” says Uddin. “Our mission statement is literally accelerating healthcare innovation by solving this data interoperability problem.”

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