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Quick Pitch: Medify mines data from millions of studies to make assessing medical experts and treatments easier.
Genius Idea: Visually explaining how medical conditions and their treatments have been studied.
A 2010 study by the Pew Internet Project found that searching for health information online was the third most popular online pursuit. But what you find when you search is not necessarily what you need if you’re managing a disease.
Searching “autism,” for instance, brings up a Wikipedia page, a fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health and an overview from MayoClinic. If I get more specific with my search, and type in “Risperdal,” a drug that is sometimes used to treat autism symptoms, I get a result titled “What Risperdal did to me” and another for a dense 2002 study by the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Derek Streat, Medify’s co-founder and CEO, didn’t find these sorts of search results helpful when his daughter was diagnosed with a rare and threatening illness.
“If you spend any decent amount of time with a doctor,” he says, “you will surpass what a WebMD will tell you within a half hour conversation.”
Meanwhile, sifting through troves of studies intended for medical professionals was frustrating.
Medify attempts to find a productive compromise between these two extremes of online health information. It aggregates published research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Medline, a database that contains more than 18 million references to journal articles going back to 1946. Then it scrapes data points like the number of patients studied, their treatments, symptoms and side effects to generate insights about medical treatments and experts.
It arranges these datapoints in easy-to-read graphs. At a glance, it’s easy to see what treatments are being studied the most and where most of the research is coming from.
A “strength of evidence” graph, for instance, uses an algorithm that bases rankings of treatments for a given medical condition on factors such as how far the drug has gotten in clinical trials, how often it has been studied, how many people it has been studied on and how quickly that treatment is evolving. Users can personalize the search by selecting their demographic information or symptoms to see studies that involved only people like themselves or their loved ones.
Ranking treatments this way might make doctors and researchers — whose papers include pages of caveats for a reason — squirm in their lab coats.
“Every patient is different, but if you get a big enough signal, that matters,” Streat argues.
He says that the platform intends to make it easier to have informed conversations with doctors rather than deliver a verdict on one treatment or another.
“At the end of the day, there’s no drug that you’re going to be able to look at on Medify that you can go buy yourself. It’s not going to spit out a pill.”
If nothing else, Medify helps narrow down relevant studies that might be hard to extract from Medline’s database without assistance. Each customized graph the site creates cites the long version of the studies from which it has pulled data.
Medify is still in beta and without a revenue stream. It is considering either offering premium research services or opt-in marketing services in the future, and Streat says that unexpected attention from the medical community might make a version for doctors another viable source of income.
For now, the company is operating on $1.8 million of funding from Voyager Capital and several angel investors.
Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.
Via Mashable: http://www.mashable.com