Investment Notes: Oscer
Blackbird is leading the seed round into Oscer, a startup building tools that will help doctors to improve the quality of their medical diagnoses.
We're thrilled to have led the seed round into Oscer, a startup building tools that will help doctors to improve the quality of their medical diagnoses.
We all make mistakes in our jobs - even doctors. Our best and brightest, most dedicated and talented humans, who have chosen to dedicate their lives to the enormous task of helping us in our moments of greatest despair. Oscer is about these doctors. It is about offering them the peace of mind to help us when we, or our loved ones, need them most.
Vaults of medical knowledge in your pocket, or on your desk
Oscer is building a medical knowledge graph and second opinion tool that will help doctors to make fewer mistakes and save millions of lives through the elimination of missed diagnosis - a steady hand on the shoulder, in the form of an intelligent mobile app that will (one day) sit inconspicuously on the desk of every doctor, in every medical practice.
Five years from now, you present at the hospital with chest pain but are otherwise lucid. You drove yourself to the hospital, after all.
The admitting doctor greets you enthusiastically, but strained after an extended roster of night shifts and a higher-than-usual case load. They place their phone on the table beside you as they take your history and come to a preliminary diagnosis.
You have been working long hours, yourself, drinking too much caffeine to stay awake, and the stress of impending deadlines has taken its toll on your sleep.
After asking all of their questions, they think that this is a panic attack.
It is all too common - they have seen patients present in this way at a growing rate.
Just to be sure, they briefly glance at their phone.
“Oh, and one more thing … is the pain in your chest referring towards your back?”
You are having a heart attack, not a panic attack.
It is not the stress that is getting to you … it is a build-up of plaque in your vessels that was slowly, but inexorably, cutting off the flow of blood to your heart.
Your life was just saved by Oscer.
Missed medical diagnoses are a massive problem for the global healthcare system that costs payers and patients trillions of dollars each year. This does not even begin to account for the immense emotional strain placed on patients and their families.
Research suggests that many of us will experience a diagnostic error in our lifetime, and that almost one third of diagnostic errors are life-threatening or result in direct harm to patients.
Medical students as the secret weapon
Oscer will begin its journey as a free or low-cost educational tool. Sounds unlikely, right?
But Oscer is already helping thousands of medical students around the world prepare for their practical clinical exams, affectionately referred to as the “OSCEs”. The educational tool is a clinical reasoning platform where medical students learn how to take histories from, and diagnose, a cohort of digital patients that Oscer has created.
These case studies are designed to test particular conditions - heart attack, gastroenteritis, pulmonary embolism etc. These digital patients respond to questions that students ask in just the same way that a real patient might, which is to say without perfect clarity!
Oscer teaches students how to identify the information that matters, developing tactics for extracting that information from patients quickly to make the best possible diagnoses.
Oscer will leverage the students that use this educational tool, and the data that they capture each day during their clinical training, to create the intelligence that will support its second opinion tool.
Oscer will empower students (budding doctors) to help build a second opinion tool that democratises clinical reasoning for all - the ultimate clinical assistant, providing real-time assurance for every doctor, student, medical practice and hospital.
Microfamous in Medicine
Oscer co-founder and CEO Tom Kelly has repeatedly impressed us with his connection to the problem and hustle: he is a training surgeon and micro-celebrity on YouTube. His advice on what to do when a patient cries has more than 70k views! Tom previously co-founded Fraser’s GAMSAT, an educational business that helps students prepare for the medical school entrance exam.
When we first met Tom, he had founded and built the Oscer MVP while working full time as a vascular surgery registrar. From testing Facebook ads to having conversations with students and coming straight off night shift into a fundraising pitch, Tom moves extremely quickly with deep product insight. As one of our team put it, Tom “sweats velocity” and is one of the best examples of a founder’s life mission we’ve seen at Blackbird.
We can’t wait to see what he and the team can do full-time on Oscer.