StuffThatWorks, a startup leveraging AI, crowdsourcing, and machine studying to match sufferers with therapies, at the moment closed a $9 million seed spherical. CEO Yael Elish says the proceeds shall be used to speed up go-to-market efforts as the corporate’s platform experiences pandemic-driven development.
In response to the worsening world well being disaster, sufferers and suppliers have sought out digital well being and medical options to issues induced by COVID-19. In areas beneath lockdown, distant visits are actually one of many key methods for sufferers to attach with specialists. Moreover, information and well being platforms that pair suppliers with assist information analytics have change into essential for information-sharing, analysis, and evaluation.
StuffThatWorks was cofounded by Elish, a founding member and former head of product at Google-owned Waze; CTO Ron Held, beforehand on the Israel Defense Force’s intelligence group; and chief information scientist Yossi Synett. Elish spent years serving to a member of the family deal with a medical situation that additionally took a toll on her household’s life. After months of on-line analysis, he found a medical therapy that was more practical than what she’d been prescribed.
This expertise impressed Elish to launch StuffThatWorks, a portal that faucets AI to allow sufferers to share private therapies and uncover choices that work finest for them. The platform’s algorithms remodel members’ information about power, uncommon, and “orphan” ailments, together with diabetes and ADHD, into customized therapy effectiveness insights. The concept is that the extra individuals who contribute to StuffThatWorks, the higher “authority” it might accrue.
An estimated 7% of Google’s daily searches are health-related, and the Pew Research Center says over 70% of individuals within the U.S. lookup their medical signs on Google. But the assets they could draw solutions from run the gamut from unvetted to jargony, and the results of misinformation and misinterpretations will be disastrous. A 2017 study discovered that when most cancers sufferers flip to therapies advocated by less-reputable on-line sources, like dietary supplements instead of standard therapies, they’re 2.5 instances extra more likely to die.
As could be anticipated, folks with hassle accessing well being care providers usually tend to search out — and comply with — questionable on-line recommendation. A 2015 article within the Journal of Medical Internet Research means that enhancing the accuracy and reliability of publicly obtainable web assets might “substantially” bolster well being outcomes.
That’s the thought behind StuffThatWorks, the place 180,000 contributors have volunteered over 10 million information factors and 150,000 “experience-based” pages throughout 110 totally different communities. Elish asserts that each situation has tons of of attainable therapies however that the effectiveness is impacted by elements like age, gender, comorbidities, and even local weather and way of life. Because of this, he says, producing statistically viable details about which therapies work finest requires gathering information from hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide on an ongoing foundation — a undertaking that’s too pricey for anybody group or establishment.
StuffThatWorks encourages folks in “condition communities” to share their anonymized views a few situation through transient surveys. After the platform collects 100 solutions about therapies, their effectiveness, and unwanted side effects, preliminary insights a few situation change into seen to the neighborhood, together with the age of onset, signs, and aggravating elements. At a number of hundred contributors, StuffThatWorks’ predictive algorithms kick in, rating therapies by effectiveness. Once hundreds of individuals contribute, the platform anticipates efficient therapies for each subgroups and people.
StuffThatWorks employs pure language processing to research responses and generate insights about signs, comorbidities, therapies, and extra. Its fashions have a look at the attributes of the therapy in query (e.g., the kind of therapy, chemical compound, and pharmaceutical courses), in addition to the attributes of the one who reported that therapy. This accounts for particular person biases towards sure kinds of therapies, in addition to biases that come up from the demographic distributions. As extra information is collected, the fashions change into extra customized, they usually’re in a position to higher account for such biases.
The platform incentivizes participation with a points-based system — members earn recognition for posting and responding to questions, becoming a member of discussions, ranking insights, and contributing information. The firm hopes folks will finally have the ability to use factors to tell choices about what medical analysis ought to be pursued, Elish mentioned, though these plans stay within the preliminary phases.
Guaranteeing members’ contributions stay “scientifically rigorous” is the duty of StuffThatWorks’ six-person medical and advisory board, which incorporates graduates of Stanford Medical School and Cornell University. A group of information scientists performs common checks for validity and accuracy, Elish says, they usually work to make sure customers retain management over all the information they share.
StuffThatWorks says it’s absolutely compliant with “all applicable privacy laws,” together with the European Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The firm retains the providers of an information safety officer chargeable for maintaining with evolving privateness requirements and practices. All processing and evaluation is carried out on a separate database made up of anonymized, normalized, and aggregated information that doesn’t embrace any personally figuring out info. Access to private well being info is restricted to key StuffThatWorks personnel for the aim of sustaining database integrity, with login entry tracked to forestall abuse.
StuffThatWorks additionally claims it’ll by no means promote private info to any third-party firms or establishments. (In compliance with the CCPA, there’s a toggle throughout the platform’s dashboard the place customers can request their information by no means be bought, which is ready to “on” by default.) But the corporate says it’s collaborating with a “limited number” of researchers, medical organizations, and affected person advocacy teams on analysis.
“People are the ones that hold in-depth knowledge about themselves, their condition, and the way treatments affect them,” Elish mentioned. “Collecting this knowledge in an organized and structured way is the only way to compare effectiveness in scale. And when that’s done across all chronic conditions it creates a gold mine of data that can dramatically advance and facilitate research to the benefit of both the patient and the medical community.”
Bessemer Venture Partners, 83North, and Ofek Ventures contributed to the seed funding in StuffThatWorks. In the close to future, the two-year-old Tel Aviv-based firm plans to rent engineers to put the groundwork for development.