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INSPIRING COMPANIES: Why we are excited about visiting doc.ai Julie Vens - De Vos - August 10, 2017

Docai

Peter Hinssen’ s new book puts artificial intelligence (AI) under the microscope and its power to trigger earthquakes in multiple sectors. During the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ Tour (September 10-15) in Silicon Valley we’ll see start-ups that are bridging the gap between theory and real-life applications.

doc.ai, founded by Belgians Walter and Sam De Brouwer, is one of those companies that are making things happen instead of just playing chess with some of the buzzwords. As Walter stated himself: we were just all reading papers last year. The successful seed round in October 2016 for doc.ai proves that it’s stepping into the real deal now. 

Dare to believe

The name of the company is quite straightforward: doc, as in doctor, and ai. If computers become smarter than humans, more precise, learning faster and endlessly, wouldn’t you rather have a Robo-doctor instead of the – with all due respect – human doctor you have today? If it takes at least 7 years of education and training to be doctor-proof, what does it actually take to remain ‘up to date’ after those 7 years? You can’t feed a human new data all the time like you can a computer. Not to  mention latent data – like bad habits a patient doesn’t share, genetic deviations, family disorders, …. Collecting biomarker data via wearables or diagnostic devices can lead to proactive medicine instead of reactive healthcare, which is what most doctors and hospitals are still about today. More and more people are empowered to find information about their health themselves, both reactively and proactively. Companies like myHealthTeams facilitate that trend.

So let’s skip the question whether we should believe in tech-powered medicine. Let’s work towards a different healthcare system – one that is actually about HEALTHcare and not SICKcare as is mostly the case today – powered by technologies like AI. I love how Eric Topol describes this new paradigm of healthcare in his fantastic book ‘The Patient Will See You Know’. 

Dare to think

I’m not saying all docs will become bots and that all doctors are now out of business. But people like Walter and Sam do have the guts to start thinking about the potential of these technologies. They combine ‘guts’ (how ironic, they research them too) with well-thought through positioning and analysis of the healthcare market and its stakeholders. 

Doctor’s point of view

About doc.ai: We’re on a mission to help our customers decrease their educational burden and expand their decision tools to better attract, inform and engage with their own customers.

Instead of focussing on the controversial statement ‘doctors will be replaced’, they focus on the benefits AI can have for doctors. News items about how ‘Doctors experience high stress levels, burnouts, … ‘ are no exception. Doc.ai’ s platform can help a doctor answer specific questions as well as help examine, diagnose and prescribe for routine procedures. Doc.ai, for example, offers a product called Robo-Hematology: it’s like a Facebook messenger helping to understand your blood results. Having a second opinion or having a co-checklist is not a luxury nor a danger in today’s information age. When new research becomes available, the platform can integrate this quickly into daily routines and questions which, in turn, lowers the education stress for doctors. Robo-genomics take into account your genetic profile and so you can think of many information sources. 

Society’s point of view

Another interesting fact) from Topol’s book is how intensely this industry is influenced by money. Walter confirms: it takes $1m to educate a physician in the USA and it takes 14 years of higher education. It’s just one statistic but it gets you thinking: wouldn’t we all benefit by using technologies to make healthcare more 21st century-proof? It’s the economy, stupid!

Patient’s point of view

When I told some family members about the fact that their comforting, affable doctor, just around the block, might one day be powered by a computer telling him or her what to do, they were pretty shocked. “Years and years of education and training would never be replaced”, they argued. Right or wrong discussions don’t add value here but these type of reactions will continue to be a threshold for adoption which again proves doc.ai ‘s well-thought through proposition and positioning. 

Dare to know

(Note: not surprisingly TedXSanFrancisco’s theme)

In his blog ’20 things I learned during FOMG17’ Walter points out an important societal effect. Even if we’d be understanding in depth how technologies shape and function our future, are we really ready to know all that freaky stuff about ourselves? His quote: 8. Some people do not want prediction. They prefer deliberate ignorance: Cassandra’s regret: The psychology of not wanting to know.

Cassandra dates back to Greek ancient history. She was cursed with the gift to be able to accurately predict the future, but also with the side effect that no one would believe her.

On the contrary, another paradox that lies ahead is how we might all get dumber when applications like doc.ai do break through and become part of the doctor’s routine. If the human doctor no longer uses technology as a supportive assistant but rather as its decision-making engine, innovation will become invisible like it already has in other industries.

 

So please yes. Let’s dare to believe in different futures. Dare to think it through and dare to know how and why things function like they do. New types of knowledge and expertise should nurture our own personal, human algorithms. It will be those that need to be smart enough to stay friends with the artificial ones. 

Eager to join this conversation? (or just eager to learn how doc.ai manages to analyse your anatomy based on a selfie?  Join us in September when we meet up with Walter during the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ Tour

Julie Vens - De Vos

Julie coordinates the nexxworks Innovation Tours. As a natural communicator with 5 years of experience in a corporate FMCG environment, she fully understands how customers are the true...