17/01/2017 12:30 PM IST | Updated 17/01/2017 3:30 PM IST

Practo Bets Big On Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare With Latest $55 Million In Funding

The company has just landed with $55 million in Series D funding.

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Shashank Nd, founder and chief executive officer of Practo Technologies Pvt.

Online healthcare platform Practo, which lets consumers search and make appointments with health care providers, is betting artificial intelligence will play a big role in the future of health care and how doctors treat patients.

Bangalore-based Practo, which already uses algorithms to help patients search for doctors and health care providers and growing quickly, has just raised $55 million in Series D funding round led by its existing investor Tencent. It will use part of the funding to explore research and development opportunities into how it can deploy AI and machine learning tools to better assist doctors in achieving clinical outcomes, said Shashank ND, Founder & CEO of Practo.

While AI will never quite replace a doctor, the technology will help them make better clinical decisions and enable precise diagnosis, equipping them with smart analytical tools, said Shashank.

"The health care tech industry is just getting started," he said, adding that technology such as machine learning and AI can provide doctors with important context and data on millions of patients to help them predict and drive better decisions. Practo also provides hospitals and health care companies software and business analytical tools to improve operations.

"In India, trust is one of the biggest challenges" and trust is what drives patients to particular doctors, said Shashank. Practo's online platform helps customers select doctors they can trust, while arming health care providers with the right contextual data so they can better serve patients.

Practo also wants to use part of the funding to expand its product offerings in tele-health and health insurance, improve its integrated platform, and boost its international expansion efforts further into the Middle East, he said. The company operates in 15 countries and is building out its "hyper local" offerings to draw more health care providers and patients, he said.

Practo is growing on the back of multiple revenue streams such as health care provider listings, said Shashank, declining to disclose specifics on its revenues or valuation. Last year, Practo enabled 45 million appointments on its platform, helping consumers book appointments, have online consultations, buy medicines, among other accessing other services. It has over 1,500 practitioners listed on its site.

With its latest funding round, three new investors joined Practo – ru-Net, RSI Fund and Thrive Capital. Practos' other existing investors include Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Capital G (formerly Google Capital), Altimeter Capital & Sofina.