Your doctor shouldn't be Googling
Medwise.ai wants to help medical professionals search smarter
Anyone will be able to relate to the pain point today’s startup is addressing. Scroll down to read all about a highly specialised search startup that could make lives easier for medical professionals and better for patients, Medwise.ai.
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Medwise.ai: because Google shouldn’t be the ‘Google for doctors’
It’s no secret that many doctors don’t like you to Google your symptoms; there’s no end to the ways you can terrify yourself if you end up on the wrong forums. But it turns out that doctors often end up Googling medical information, too.
While medical professionals might prefer to consult a hefty tome like the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine for reference, when you’re busy treating patients it’s often quicker and easier to pull out your smartphone or check your laptop. And if you know where to look, you might get more up-to-date information than in a handbook.
But as you can imagine, it’s also very easy to get poor quality or old information online, even if you’re a medical professional - and that has an impact on the quality of care they provide.
Looking to bridge this gap between authoritative information and convenience is Medwise.ai. CEO and co-founder Keith Tsui says around 70% of doctors and clinicians use Google to find information at speed. In fact, he used to do it himself when he was a doctor.
Cambridge-based (but remote in practice) Medwise.ai is a search engine aimed squarely at healthcare professionals. The aim is to make it easy to find the latest, most relevant guidelines for any kind of care without having to keep on top of the latest rules, research, and clinical data.
How it works
“What we've built is an A.I.-powered search platform that we can tailor to the use cases of each individual healthcare organisation,” says Tsui. “We combine both cutting-edge A..I technologies such as transformer-based neural networks, with more traditional information retrieval algorithms, to provide a really good search experience to healthcare professionals.
“Unlike a lot of the A.I. solutions out there who are developing symptom checkers for patients, most of the time, our users already have an idea of what are the next steps and they would like to reconfirm that their approach is still the most up to date, and it's the best practice for their patients.”
Tsui says real-world use cases include doctors confirming they are right with a diagnosis and next steps, or GPs checking the latest local referral protocols to make sure a patient gets the best care.
“What our platform does is that we can combine all of this information all in one place to become kind of the ‘single source of truth’ for these healthcare professionals to provide best care to patients.”
Medwise.ai has started out addressing the primary care market due to the diverse range of patients and the fact that GPs need a much broader array of the latest knowledge compared to more specialised clinicians. Tsui says hundreds of GPs use the platform regularly, and the startup is now planning to roll it out more widely, tailoring it to different use cases.
These use cases could be different healthcare settings (hospitals, for example) or clinical specialities such as cardiology, respiratory care, or oncology.
Tsui originally hails from Hong Kong, where he trained as a doctor. Motivated by the problems he saw healthcare professionals suffering, he studied for an MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Cambridge. “It's kind of like an MBA for healthcare and life sciences,” he says.
“I learned a lot about how to potentially commercialise new inventions like new drugs, vaccines, medical devices, digital health technology; how you can go from idea to a product or service that helps and benefits patients and clinicians.”
After spending some time as a management consultant and then a product manager at healthtech startup Huma, he was inspired to become a founder. He started Medwise.ai with Luis Ulloa, who previously co-founded Bloomsbury AI, which got acqui-hired into Facebook’s A.I. team in 2018. This means the new startup has serious credibility on the A.I. front.
Tsui says Medwise.ai was born as an idea around three years ago. Due to the pandemic, the first version of the product was a Covid-19 specific search resource aimed at medical professionals.
“That version was successful,” says Tsui. “It was funded by an Innovate UK grant, and an independent evaluation showed that we were saving 2.6 minutes per search and had potential cost savings of up to £30 million when deployed widely.”
Going to market
Medwise.ai currently works to a freemium model. The free version is like a vertical version of Google or Bing, offering public web search but only returning results from a curated selection of authoritative information sources. The premium version sees healthcare organisations such as NHS trusts pay to have Medwise.ai include all their locally relevant information.
“We can integrate with their single sign on for example, so that it’s much more integrated with their workforce’s workflow. And we charge a licence fee per deployment. For every customised version of our search platform, we charge a yearly licence fee and there's no limit to the amount of users,” explains Tsui.
He adds that the startup will be included on the UK government’s G-Cloud procurement framework from November, which should open up new opportunities on this front for them.
In addition to saving their staff time, Tsui says healthcare organisations see other benefits such as the ability to share information with the workforce at the fraction of the cost of a traditional intranet.
Tsui sees this two-pronged approach as being a good way to grow a userbase: top-down with the premium product, and bottom-up by getting individual professionals hooked on freemium version as a resource they return to frequently.
Still, the thinly-stretched NHS can sometimes be difficult to sell into, so Medwise.ai is also exploring private healthcare and telemedicine customer bases too.
There are other potential monetisation options the startup is considering. These include featuring ads for relevant training and education. And the data they collect about what professionals are searching for could build into a valuable resource itself.
Where is this all going?
Medwise.ai’s competition, funding, and next steps: