EnsoData is a company that utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze the human body to diagnose health conditions. To learn more about the company Pulse 2.0 interviewed EnsoData co-founder, former CEO, and current Executive Chairman & Chief Research Officer Chris Fernandez.
“Through our work at EnsoData, my team and I, together with our clinician partners, have helped over 1 million get a fast, accurate sleep apnea diagnosis with Waveform AI – a technology we pioneered that transforms billions of waveform data points collected during a sleep test into an easy-to-read report so their 500+ clinics and 100+ provider organizations can make faster, more consistent diagnoses,” said Fernandez.
Under Fernandez’s leadership, EnsoData grew from 3 to 50 full-time employees (with a retention rate of 92%), raised over $30 million in venture capital funding from top VCs, obtained one of the first FDA clearances of AI/ML software in sleep medicine, and released over 25 AI research publications to push the science of sleep forward.
The company’s work has earned EnsoData and Fernandez various recognitions, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Healthcare list, the Inc. Best Places to Work list for the second year in a row (1 of only 3 Wisconsin companies to make the list), the Wisconsin Innovation Award in Healthcare, and the InBusiness 40 Under 40 list, among a few other venues.
Formation Of EnsoData
How did the idea for EnsoData come together? While at UW-Madison, Sam Rusk (co-founder and CAIO), Nick Glattard (co-founder and CTO), and Chris Fernandez discovered a passion for machine learning, artificial intelligence, increasing patient access, improving patient outcomes, enhancing the patient-provider care experience, and advancing the state of knowledge and scientific methods for studying health and disease. And as it turns out, the team also loved working together and wanted to turn these passions into something tangible: EnsoData.
“While it was easy to feel discouraged at the start, we remained persistent in pursuit of developing our technology and achieving our dream,” Fernandez added. “Fun fact about our origin story: the three of us took a road trip across California to ask sleep clinics up and down the coast to throw us a bone (data), built strong relationships and networks, and eventually through our early believers and teamwork made the dream work.”
Challenges Faced Building The Company
What are some of the challenges Fernandez faced in building the company? “EnsoData has trudged a long, uphill battle to earn trust and application of its AI-based solution in a change-averse healthcare industry,” Fernandez acknowledged. “As AI has gone mainstream this year, healthcare decision-makers don’t want to fall behind – while also not taking undue risk. EnsoData has quickly gone from a first and only to needing to distinguish itself as the proven leader in an increasingly crowded arena by doubling down on demonstrating its clinical success and further validating its technology.”
What is EnsoData’s core product? EnsoSleep is EnsoData’s FDA-cleared sleep test scoring and sleep study management solution that optimizes the sleep testing, diagnosis, and treatment workflow. Powered by AI, EnsoSleep is providing clinicians with one cloud-based platform for viewing, scoring, editing, and reporting professionally scored polysomnograms (PSGs) and Home Sleep Apnea Tests (HSATs). The simplified, accelerated workflow saves sleep clinicians time, and results in more opportunities to expand patient care, improve outcomes and treat more patients.
Evolution Of EnsoData’s Technology
How has EnsoData’s technology evolved since launching? “As sleep technology continues to evolve, so does EnsoSleep. In 2021, EnsoSleep received 510(k) clearance for new sleep center tools to enhance patient care and experience like single channel photoplethysmogram (PPG) based Total Sleep Time (TST) and Sleep-Wake Staging. EnsoData also got clearance to expand into the diagnosis of sleep apnea in Pediatric patients, utilize NextGen home testing capabilities, and introduce major new components to our interoperable, end-to-end diagnostic workflow solution,” Fernandez explained. “Thanks to machine learning, the software is evolving with each study. Currently, the Waveform AI has been trained on over 1,950,000 professionally scored polysomnogram (PSG) studies from more than 500 clinics around the U.S., and has currently diagnosed over 1 million patients.”
What have been some of EnsoData’s most significant milestones? EnsoData’s significant milestones started in 2017 when they obtained one of the first FDA clearances of AI/ML software in sleep medicine. And from there they raised over $30 million in VC funding and grew from 3 to 45 full-time employees with 22 being hired in the last year alone.
“Our full staff now includes seven clinical experts on the team with more than 100 years of frontline sleep clinical experience. To push the science of sleep forward, we have also released 25 AI research publications and many more to come this year,” noted Fernandez.
Customer Success Stories
Clinicians are known for spending thousands of hours reading and analyzing reports and sleep studies are some of the most intensive in the industry. EnsoData frees up time for clinicians so that they can spend time to enhance patient care, develop new programs, and ultimately focus on revenue-generating activities and grow as an organization. These are two customer testimonials:
EnsoSleep AI scoring changed the way our night techs think about their work. Utilizing EnsoSleep allowed more time for experienced scoring staff to work one on one with night staff to address any recording quality issues. Embrace technology and change. If you are standing still, you are not growing.
– Susan Smith, Sleep Clinical Director – Sleep Management Services
EnsoSleep gave us the ability to leverage a core team of scorers, allowing us to control the quality of the reporting. My 40 physicians no longer complain about inconsistencies. If you’re concerned with efficiency and quality, EnsoSleep is the answer.”
– Laura Linley, CRT, RPSGT, FAAST, Co-Founder and VP of Clinical Operations – Advanced Sleep Management
EnsoData has secured $30 million in VC funding with $20 million coming in a Series A extension from 2022. And $9 million was raised in 2020 in a Series A round and $2 million was raised in seed rounds before then.
Total Addressable Market
What is the total addressable market (TAM) size that EnsoData is pursuing? “Researchers estimate the cost of undiagnosed Sleep Apnea to exceed $100 billion per year in avoidable costs — in the United States alone. Worldwide, researchers estimate Sleep Apnea affects nearly 1 billion patients globally. By scaling sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment, EnsoData is attacking this over $100 billion problem,” analyzed Fernandez/
Differentiation From The Competition
What differentiates EnsoData from its competition? “Even as more companies enter into the AI arena in healthcare, EnsoData is already leading the way in the development of an ethically sound foundation and transparent process for design, validation, and improvement of AI systems to mitigate risks of bias in healthcare,” Fernandez replied. “EnsoSleep’s Waveform AI has been trained by analyzing over 1,950,000 professionally scored polysomnogram (PSG) studies from more than 500 clinics around the U.S., and it has a clinician agreement rate of 93%. EnsoData’s technology not only allows them to boast an all-time customer retention rate of 95%, but also creates more rapid, accurate, and affordable diagnoses and therapy for disorders that plague billions of people. Furthermore, the company is addressing inequities related to the cost of care by contributing to research that illustrates the financial value of effective Obstructive Sleep Apnea treatment while supporting a wide range of testing and therapy options for patients.”
Future Company Goals
What are some of EnsoData’s future company goals? “EnsoData’s vision for the future is to live in a world in which every patient has access to quality and affordable treatment,” Fernandez concluded. “EnsoData is doing this by using technology to quickly make that world a reality. EnsoData will be using Waveform AI to cross into other areas of healthcare beyond sleep and driving R&D initiatives that will lead to new product realizations and even deeper collaborations with our customers and research colleagues.”