Austin-based Merit Medicine, a health tech startup, announced it has raised $2 million.

Austin-based LiveOak Ventures led the seed stage investment.

Merit Medicine, founded in 2022, uses AI insights from millions of patients in extensive datasets to generate predictions for each employer.

Ali Panjwani founded the company and serves as CEO. He previously worked at Genentech, BridgeBio Pharma, Coherus Biosciences, and Aetion.

“Large self-funded employers cover over a quarter of the US population today,” Panjwani said in a news release.

And employer contributions to healthcare comprise roughly $600 billion of annual healthcare spending in the United States, Panjwani said. “Using AI insights from millions of patients, Merit Medicine ensures a smoother, more predictable budget for employers’ catastrophic healthcare spend, leading to more people getting affordable access to the care they need when they need it.”

“Stop-loss carriers, responsible for insuring employers against substantial claims arising from these drugs and treatments, handle extensive information to calculate the premiums for employers,” according to a news release. Self-funded employers rely solely on their employee population.

“Self-funded employers are faced with rising healthcare costs and significant financial risk based on the health of their employee base,” Mike Marcantonio, who is leading the investment for Live Oak Ventures, said in a news statement. “Unfortunately, they have very few tools today to evaluate this risk and plan for it.  When I met the Merit Medicine team, I was inspired by their mission to help employers address this risk by using AI to predict high-cost specialty drug usage and rare, chronic, and complex conditions.”