Jeenie, an on-demand digital medical interpreter platform, has announced a $9.3 million Series A funding round led by Transformation Capital. This new cash infusion is expected to help the company grow its team and interpretation product.
“We created Jeenie as a mobile interpreting platform that connects you, the user, with a live interpreter on any device you already have for on-demand language access and cultural assistance,” said Kirsten Brecht Baker, CEO and co-founder of Jeenie, MobiHealthNews. “You just open the app on your smartphone, or you open the URL on your tablet or computer. You select the language you need help with, then tap on voice or video. And in about 30 seconds, live interpreters [are] online to help you.”
WHAT THEY DO
Jeenie made its first investment in 2018 and was then officially launched. Originally, the company focused on meeting the needs of tourists traveling in the states. Over time, however, the business changed in healthcare because of COVID-19.
The app uses a gig economy model for medical interpreting services. Baker said it has been compared to Uber or Lyft for medical interpreting services, though she said she doesn’t necessarily encourage that.
The app works in both D2C or direct-to-consumer as well as B2B or business-to-business models. A patient or a doctor can request services through the app.
“It’s a tool that can be used by you, by me, by any patient, anywhere, anytime, as long as they sign up for it. The app is simple. They just look at the interface, choose their language and go. That said, almost 90% of our clients are actually healthcare companies so we are currently selling to doctors offices, clinics, hospitals and even many of the humanitarian organizations who do a lot of medical but also nice to help with immigration and refugee support so work in shelters, and so on,” Baker said.
Users have the option to choose only video or voice. The service also has an option for American Sign Language.
Baker said she sees this product as a way to promote health equity. Recently, it was used to help refugees access healthcare in their language.
“We saw a crazy wave of immigration and refugee support last year that started last year with the southern border. The shift in administration has really caused a lot of that. But on the southern border, what’s interesting is we had to leave running the Guatemalan and Mayan dialect on demand because we work in all the shelters for unaccompanied children along the border… Now of course we welcome 100,000 Ukraine [refugees] coming to the US soon, but we’re actually diving into Ukraine’s problem a little bit, hopefully as part of the solution, and not just in the US, but also to be on the ground at the border locations.”
WHAT IS IT FOR?
“We’re pretty much expanding the entire team across the board,” Baker said. “So we’re hiring sales. We’re increasing our customer service and our customer engagement department.”
Baker notes that Jeenie is a tech-first company and that the interpreting service operates through a gig model.
“I think what really makes us, again, special to the incumbent is that we’re not just some kind of service company built on top of, again, all this heavy infrastructure. … So we’re going to use a lot of that money to improve the technology, hire a lot of engineers and product people.”
Medical systems are looking for new interpretation services to help patients access care. For instance, Mount Sinai partnered with healthcare IT provider Caregility to provide a number for the language line, which clinicians can then connect to a third-party provider.
In addition, Southcoast Health partnered with: Stratus Video helps clinicians and patients access remote video interpretation services.