AIBusiness.org recently spoke with NYC-based AI Start-up MedNexus, interviewing Nathanael Geman (Co-Founder and CEO) and Kevin Ann (Co-Founder and CTO). Geman and Kevin share their insights on how they built MedNexus to provide the patient community with reliable, up-to-date medical information.
- Tell us about your journey so far with MedNexus – the idea behind it, your inspiration, your personal experience?
We [the business partners] met during our previous job at Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, a national healthcare IT consulting firm. We are both avid technology enthusiasts and have always been interested in new developments in Medicine. We would often have extended conversations about the future of Information Technology, genomics and transhumanism. Society has gone from a time of information scarcity (pre-internet) to one of information and stimulus overload – and thus we believe that information curation is one the biggest challenge of the 21st century.
MedNexus in it’s very first conception was meant to be a resource to help guide physicians deal with complex medical cases by providing them with cutting-edge research information on their topics of interest. The first instantiation was a content recommender system. Soon after, we changed our focus to a search engine because it became clear that this was how physicians gathered information (this was not a very big change since content recommendation and search are two sides of the same coin). As our startup progressed, we realized that there was a much bigger opportunity and greater need within the patient community for reliable, up-to-date medical information.
Medicine is evolving quickly and becoming more data-driven, with more patients playing an active role in their care and the decision-making process. Unfortunately patients are inundated with junk information and as a result they cannot keep up with the latest developments and engage in an informed discussion with their doctor. Without the benefit of formal scientific or medical training, nor the clinical resources of physicians, they face a daunting task of educating themselves in order to make the best decision about their health.
We launched MedNexus for Patients in the Fall of 2015 and have been very excited by the growth of our technology and the support it has brought to patients; many of whom are left with many unanswered questions after their doctor’s visit and struggle to find quality information online.
- Can you give a brief overview of your proposition, and the benefits it offers to an Enterprise?
At MedNexus we believe having access to the right medical information can change someone’s life. Exciting new research developments are happening every day but patients (and doctors) are inundated with information and cannot keep up with the latest evidence.
MedNexus is a medical search engine for patients – think “Google for Medicine”. Through our search engine, you can find the most relevant content from a variety of sources: medical journals, patient forums, government health sites, etc. We want to empower patients to educate themselves and cut through the noise and pseudo-science of typical online health information.
Our technology is unique in its search capabilities and the types of material we provide. Our ranking system is based on novel machine learning algorithms (e.g. using classifiers to predict non-measurable, latent variables such as clinical relevance) that vet the clinical impact and usefulness of published research using a variety of metrics. The user is guided through the search process with the help of intelligent suggestions, in order to accommodate for all levels of expertise.
- Would you like to share a couple of your case-studies/success stories
Our disruptive technology has attracted a lot of attention from major authors and thought leaders in the medical space.
– Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and many other New York Time bestsellers, and engaged health activist, tweeted and shared a post about us on Facebook, in what he calls his “Friday Symposium”.
- What’s next for MedNexus?
We just launched a new, sleeker version of our website (http://www.mednexus.io), with a focus on a simple and user-friendly design. Our next priorities will be to add more intelligence to help users get the most of our search engine. To this end, we are working on a couple interesting features: one is to tag evidence presented in our search results based on how well established it is, and the other is to provide a high-level, visual summary of the research on a particular disease broken down by treatment.
We also plan on incorporating a telemedicine component to our platform, where the patient can have access to a 5-10 minute live, online consultation with a doctor or other expert while they are using the site. This would augment the value we provide and help them navigate and make sense of the information they are getting.
Finally, we plan on collaborating with patient organizations in order to get our name out and augment our credibility.
- Which Industries do you believe will be the pioneers in broadly adopting AI technologies? Is Healthcare/Medical one of them?
We believe most industries will benefit tremendously from adopting AI technologies. However, information-intensive fields like Law and Medicine stand to gain the most. What is both exciting and challenging about these industries is that there is currently tremendous waste in the form of manual human labor and information loss. Junior lawyers are still asked to sift through hundred pages of cases, time that is expensive for their clients. Doctors and nurses are overwhelmed with data, and the tools (such as EHRs) that are supposed to help them manage their workflow are only adding to these problems.
AI can mitigate many of these burdens and at a lower cost, but the need for human intelligence won’t be completely eliminated. Medicine is so complex and ever-changing that we are not yet at the point where AI can answer all the questions or more importantly, formulate the correct questions. However, we can harness AI to quickly sift through the available sea of material and data in order extract its most relevant aspects and cut out the noise; and assist the user in this information-gathering process, leaving to the doctor or patient only the decision of what to do with this information.