Scouting Report-VideaHealth: Applying AI to Improve (and Possibly Expand) Dental Care
The AI-programed Dental care company VideaHealth recently raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital with participation from Zetta Venture Partners and Pillar VC. This latest funding round brings the total funds raised by VideaHealth to $26.4 million. VideaHealth’s software helps detect dental pathologies that the dentist may miss. They hope to make this type of AI a standard part of dental care by assisting dentists in their clinical diagnosis and ensuring quality dental care for their patients. We beleive that over time AI-based dental tools like VideaHealth can be used to extend care to many currently lacking care through the use or dental hygienists or other professionals under the supervision of a dentist using their platform thereby eliminating or reducing the number of people lacking access (our theory not currently a strategy of Videa’s to our knowledge). This would impact reduce the chances of developing poor dental health and pathologies.
Oral conditions affected 3.9 billion people and “$244.4 billion of the expenditures occurred in high-income regions” per the Global Burden of Disease study.
The populations most prone to oral diseases are also the most vulnerable: the poor, the very young, the elderly, those with disabilities, and those with comorbidities.
VideaHealth AI software works like a second pair of eyes to help dentists diagnose oral diseases and works to help do diagnostics and practice management.
Currently, dentists miss up to 50% of oral pathologies in dental diagnostic imaging.
The founder and CEO, Florian Hillen, founded VideaHealth in 2018 with a mission to improve patient health using artificial intelligence. Videa is harnessing the power of AI to make dentistry more transparent to dentists, insurance providers, and patients. The company was founded to overcome the high rate of missed diagnoses in the dental industry. A study published in 2011 by Dr. Ida Kondori, then at Xavier University, found that 43% of clinical diagnoses submitted by dentists were incorrect. That means that almost half of the patients were not receiving an accurate diagnosis. Similarly, Kondori and colleagues found that “General dentists misdiagnosed 45.9%, oral and maxillofacial surgeons 42.8%, endodontists 42.2%, and periodontists 41.2% of the time”. Hillen and partners recognized these high misdiagnoses rates and subsequently developed a tool to combat this. To accomplish this, the AI program is trained on data from millions of patient records from images that have been previously reviewed and labeled by dental experts. By analyzing these records, the program can identify and measure clinical indicators on x-rays to provide an accurate diagnosis. Although the company is for-profit, most of the money generated comes from venture capital investments.
Videa is one of the early companies aiming to apply artificial intelligence to the problem of dental diagnosis and aims to reduce the percentage of dentists misdiagnosing patients by utilizing AI dental software. Videa is different from other dental services like Quip which is involved in the design and delivery of oral care products and Pearl Inc which provides AI analysis which attempts to either support or refute a diagnosis (as opposed to capture a potentially missing diagnosis or improper treatment). Videa's solution is unique because it’s a digital resource used by dentists to improve diagnosis accuracy when seeing patients. With the proper usage and development, their software may be able to improve overall oral health outcomes. This is extremely important as noted in a recent article in BMC Human Resources for Health “the combined worldwide direct and indirect costs estimated [for oral health conditions are] near $442 billion USD annually and “the populations most prone to these diseases are also the most vulnerable: the poor, the very young, the elderly, those with disabilities, and those with comorbidities.”
The Big Picture:
Videa’s dental tool AI is one of what is expected to be many digital health tools that could play a role in oral health. Moreover, we expect the recognition of good oral health to gain prominence as a prerequisite to strong physical and mental health. Those lacking in good oral health often cannot eat certain foods that help their diets which in turn contributes to other health issues. In addition, missing teeth or poor gums, can also contribute to poor self-image which can contribute to social isolation leading to other behavioral health issues. As noted in “Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Population”, “access to oral health care is essential to promoting and maintaining overall health and well-being, yet only half of the population visits a dentist each year…the consequences of these disparities in access to oral health care can lead to a number of conditions including malnutrition, childhood speech problems, infections, diabetes, heart disease, and premature births.” In addition, as noted above, the cost of poor oral care in the U.S can be associated with almost $500B in disease. The Global Burden of Disease study reported that oral conditions affected 3.9 billion people. [Tooth decay] and periodontal disease are the most prevalent oral diseases globally and that “$244.4 billion of the expenditures occurred in high-income regions including North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific”. Tools like VideaHealth can not only make practitioners more effective it can also potentially broaden the delivery of care by improving e the efficiency of dental providers in making an accurate prognosis. In areas where providers are scarce this could help address the social determinants of health associated with oral care by reducing the number of people who will not have access to Videa’s platform.