The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving thanks to advances in technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These tools allow healthcare providers to receive “hands-on” training without being physically located at an organization’s facility.
As remote work becomes the new normal in the COVID-19 era, it appears that healthcare won’t be an exception to the rule. Tools and services that enable remote training and education are currently gaining a huge amount of interest from investors.
That has helped a Palo Alto, California-based startup called Osso VR raise $14 million in new funding. Notably, the investment arm of healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente led the way.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Osso has seen adoption rates of its VR training platform skyrocket. The startup is staffed with a team boasting noteworthy backgrounds. Employees previously worked at Industrial Light and Magic (the special effects studio behind “Star Wars”), EA, Apple, and Microsoft.
Its founder, Dr. Justin Barad, is a lifelong coder with experience working at Activision/Blizzard in game development. He says that Osso’s mission “is about improving patient outcomes, democratizing outcomes, and improving education.”
“Now that the technology is growing and maturing and VR is growing as a platform, we can attack the broader problems in healthcare,” Barad adds.
The startup develops generic educational content for training purposes. However, what makes it special is the company-specific virtual reality content it creates for the likes of Johnson & Johnson. Those productions include everything from instructional videos about vascular surgery to robotic surgery training and more.
Osso currently has a client list of 30 companies. Notably, 12 of them fall within the medical device industry. It uses Oculus Quest headsets to facilitate its VR training. Osso’s platform is being utilized in 20 teaching hospitals across 20 different countries.
A recent validation study found that surgeons who trained with Osso VR had a 230 percent improvement in their overall performance.
Making Money Moves
Osso’s recent funding round is noteworthy because it occurred in the middle of an economy-squeezing pandemic. However, the investment from Kaiser Permanente is perhaps more important given the space that Osso operates in.
It is worth noting that Amy Belt Raimundo, managing director at Kaiser Permanente, said that the investment decision isn’t based on what the company uses—yet. She says, “We don’t tie our investment to a deployment or customer contract… We made the announcement that we are looking at [Osso VR’s] technology for use… because the response showed that there was an unmet need there.
It’s possible that Kaiser could adopt Osso in the near future. If that happens, it would be a major win for the startup.
Regardless, Osso finds itself in favorable waters. Barad notes that the market for medical device education is worth approximately $3 billion. That figure is expected to increase to $5 billion in the near future.
In the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic and fallout from it will continue to boost adoption of remote training technologies. Thanks to this, and its latest funding, Osso is in great shape to impact the health-tech sector in the coming years.