CHILD Health Imprints (CHIL), a Singapore-based technology company focusing on neonatal clinical care, on Thursday announced it has raised US$2.3 million in pre-Series A funding.
The round was led by Asian early-stage venture capital fund HealthXCapital which focuses on healthcare tech investments in South and South-east Asia. Other participants included Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm Seeds Capital, as well as high net worth individuals.
CHIL aims to improve clinical outcomes in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) by helping clinicians monitor and treat at-risk newborn babies. Its proprietary solutions aggregate in real-time the infants’ vital data, bedside clinical observations and laboratory results, and then analyse the data in medically comprehensive formats.
The startup develops technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analysis, to improve early diagnosis of critical diseases and overall quality of NICUs across the world.
The funds raised will go towards expanding its neonatal care services in the Asia-Pacific, seeking international regulatory approvals, deploying managed services for networked hospitals, and evolving its integrated NICU platform for predictive analysis.
The startup has built a bedside IoT-based device called NEO which interoperates with various medical devices used in NICUs, offering data over the duration of the infant’s stay in the NICU to reduce manual charting by nurses.
CHIL also provides a bedside tablet-based interface for the entry of prospective data. This is supported by iNICU, an AI-based analytics engine which uses clinical rules and disease-specific analytical models to help neonatologists focus on neonatal care and identify early onset of diseases.
The startup is looking to expand its manufacturing base in Daejeon, South Korea, as well as its software and data analytics team in India.
With the fresh funds, CHIL will also collaborate with machine-learning experts at NICUs at two major universities in the US and improve their decision-support offering, as the company launches from its Singapore home base to expand to new markets in Asia.
Ravneet Kaur, CHIL co-founder, said that the next strategic step in the startup’s expansion will be regulatory compliance and publishing peer-reviewed articles to document the efficacy of its iNICU analytics engine in reducing medical errors.
Close to one million infants die every year due to preterm birth-related complications, according to World Health Organization’s 2018 report. The major causes of neonatal deaths are prematurity, infections, delayed treatment, shortage of skilled manpower, and human-based errors. To tackle these, there needs to be better data integration among multiple devices – such as the patient monitor, ventilator and infusion pumps – as well as unified neonatal workflow practices, CHIL said.
CHIL enables command centre consoles for real-time management of satellite NICUs in hub-and-spoke models. This allows specialised neonatal care to be offered remotely by neonatologists in cities to paediatric clinics in remote parts of countries, especially in emerging Asia where there is a shortage of specialised skills.
“Our aim is to improve neonatal safety across countries with high neonatal mortality rates,” said Harpreet Singh, chief executive and co-founder of CHIL.
“The company will also develop inroads into more advanced neonatal ecosystems to bring their best clinical practices to other markets across the world,” he added.
CHIL currently runs in 25 NICOs in top-tier hospitals in India, including Apollo Hospitals and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.
It is set to further expand in India, and to Japan, South Korea, Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and South-east Asia.
HealthXCapital managing partner Seemant Jauhari said: “The clinical decision support and predictive analytics based on real-time data showcases the power of digital health disrupting traditional models of care delivery.”
Ted Tan, deputy chief executive of Enterprise Singapore, added that CHIL is rapidly becoming “one of the most crucial and significant technology platforms in Asia”.
The CHIL team is backed by neonatologists including Yao Sun of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, Jonathan Palma of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Satish Saluja of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and Su Jin Cho of EWHA Womans University School of Medicine in Seoul.
Mr Singh and Ms Kaur founded CHIL after their twins were born preterm and one passed away within a week of birth.