AI-Based Medical Billing Startup Receives Investment From Northwestern Mutual
Artificial Intelligence is all around us. It’s in homes in the form of voice assistants, it’s in your smartphone with predictive texting and searches, and it’s in businesses as a strategy for streamlining daily practices. While AI in any form offers a range of life-changing possibilities, it’s in the hands of businesses that AI has the potential to shift how the world functions.
One of the most recent developments in the AI business world is in the medical field. Northwestern Mutual is reportedly investing as much as $85,000 in a startup that is developing an AI-based platform to extract data from electronic medical billing documents. This startup is called Pythonic AI and was co-founded by Baoqiang Cao and Matt Younkle.
Although the majority of the world may not give much thought to electronic medical billing documents, these important forms can be a major thorn in the sides of those who do have to deal with them on a daily basis. The documents are notoriously difficult to review. Too often, the most important information in the document is buried under medical jargon.
Cao and Younkle have found a way to solve this problem. The team developed a machine learning platform that pulls keywords from these electronic documents. The keywords are focused on those needed in underwriting insurance policies or evaluating claims, giving the platform great value to major insurance companies like Northwestern Mutual.
The insurance and financial services giant actually held a competition, called Northwestern Mutual’s Reverse Pitch MKE, to find entrepreneurs and startups that could pitch tech solutions for certain problems. One of these challenges was to develop a way to streamline the medical review process. That’s how they found Pythonic AI and their handy keyword-mining platform.
Too often, tech startups encounter what is known as a hype cycle. Individuals will burn out on new technology when it disappoints with unfulfilled promises and over-reach. If a new technology doesn’t help solve enough real problems it won’t gain enough momentum or achieve a level of deep adoption. It will then “bounce out” of the cycle and reside in the vast graveyard of failed tech startups.
Fortunately for Pythonic AI, they’ve got a major investor in their corner, an effective solution to a widespread problem, and extensive experience of their own. According to the two founders, they have been working on the platform for about a year. Younkle has experience in starting several companies, raising venture capital, and in software product management. Cao boasts an extensive educational background and career focused on physics and utilizing machine learning to solve bioinformatics problems.
As the winner of the competition, Pythonic AI will receive access to mentorship, networks, and office space in Cream City Labs, Northwestern Mutual’s new innovation lab in downtown Milwaukee. The space in Cream City Labs will likely prove to be extremely beneficial, as other professionals and academics involved in Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute work there, too. These perks are, of course, in addition to the $85,000 seed money.
Cao and Younkle plan to use that funding to acquire the hardware they need to build their proposed AI platform. They’ve received $25,000 so far and will receive the rest of it after achieving certain milestones in product development and piloting. The two are currently working with underwriters at Northwestern Mutual to gain a better understanding of how they evaluate medical documents and what exactly they look for in the risk assessment process.