It seems that distance learning is even coming for the healthcare industry.
As remote work becomes the order of the day in the COVID-19 era, any tool that can bring training and education services to folks across industries is gaining a huge amount of investor interest -- and that includes healthcare.
Virtual reality tools like those on offer from Osso VR have been raising investor dollars at a rapid clip, and now the Palo Alto, California-based virtual reality distribution platform joins their ranks with a $14 million round of financing.
The money came from a clutch of investors led by the investment arm of Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare giant whose network of managed care facilities and services spans the country. Previous backers and new investors like SignalFire, GSR, Scrum Ventures, Leslie Ventures and OCA Ventures also participated in the funding.
Osso has seen its adoption skyrocket during the pandemic as medical device manufacturers and healthcare networks turn to training tools that don't require a technician to be physically present.
According to company founder Dr. Justin Barad, the market for medical device education services alone is currently around $3 billion to $5 billion and growing rapidly.
Staffed by a team that comes from Industrial Light and Magic, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Apple, Osso VR makes generic educational content for training purposes and then produces company specific virtual reality educational videos for companies like Johnson & Johnson. Those productions can run the gamut from instructional videos on vascular surgery to robotic surgery training tips and tricks.
While Kaiser Permanente Ventures' Amy Belt Raimundo said that the strategic investors' decisions to commit capital aren't based on what Kaiser Permanente uses, necessarily, the organization does take its cues from what employees want.
"We don't tie our investment to a deployment or customer contract, but we look for the same signals within Kaiser Permanente," said Belt Raimundo. But the organization did have employees interested in using the Osso technology. "We made the announcement that we are looking at [Osso VR] technology for use. And that's where the investment and commercial decision was signaling off of each other, because the response showed that there was an unmet need there," she said.
Osso VR currently has around 30 customers, 12 of which are in the medical device space. The company uses Oculus Quest headsets and is deployed in 20 teaching hospitals across 20 different countries. In a recent validation study, surgeons training with Osso VR showed a 230% improvement in overall surgical performance, the company said in a statement.
The goal, according to Barad, a lifelong coder with a game development credit from Activision/Blizzard, is to democratize healthcare. "This is about improving patient outcomes, democratizing access and improving education," said Barad. "Now that the technology is growing and maturing and VR is growing as a platform, we can attack the broader problems in healthcare," he said.