Rimads, a start-up founded and chaired by CMU-Q professor, makes healthcare solutions faster, safer and more accessible
With the world shifting heavily to the digital sphere, entrepreneurs are building on the advantage that technology and Artificial Intelligence solutions offer in revolutionizing the way we live. Those in the healthcare industry are finding innovative ways to bring creative, functional, and effective solutions to improve patient outcomes.
For Dr. Mohammed Hammoud, a Computer Science Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), Qatar Foundation partner university, his vision was to come up with an end-to-end Artificial Intelligence (AI) based medical ecosystem that transforms patient experience – from the time the patient feels unwell all the way until they get cured.
Turning struggle into success
It is said that most innovations come as a result of personal experiences. This was no different for Dr. Hammoud. He got the idea of his mobile application when his son had a pancreatic failure, and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the tender age of 6. It happened all of a sudden, and the family experienced challenges within the current healthcare system.
This is when the idea of Rimads was born.
One of the major challenges that patients experience is the diagnostic errors
“One of the major challenges that patients experience is the diagnostic errors. Research shows that between 10 to 11 percent of people in the US die every year because of diagnostic errors. Research also shows that accuracy of the human doctor in the US is 59 percent, which means, if you go to see a doctor, the probability of the doctor miss-diagnosing you is around 41 percent. That is a very high number,” Dr. Hammoud, Founder and CEO of Rimads QSTP-LLC, said.
Another challenge, according to Dr. Hammoud, is the waiting time. He said: “We conducted a research study across the private healthcare sector in Doha, and it showed that more than 50 percent of walk-in patients wait between 60 to 90 minutes to see a doctor.”
Collecting medicine is another area that may consume a lot of time. There is also the claim processing procedures at health insurance companies which take up hours or sometimes even longer. “Sometimes it takes days, sometimes weeks for the health insurance company to process your claim and get back to you,” Dr. Hammoud said.
We failed several times, but I was determined to solve it. Eventually we succeeded, and this was mostly because we had access to the right talent in Education City
A comprehensive experience
At Rimads, incubated at Qatar Science & Technology Park, that is part Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation, Dr. Hammoud and his team were able to create an AI-based medical diagnostic system that addresses the challenges in diagnosing diseases and health conditions accurately and instantly. They invented an app called ‘Avey’.
After being tested over thousands of synthetic and real-world medical cases, Avey proved its ability to provide immediate, accurate, and fast assessments, and hit an accuracy of 93 percent on average. But it doesn’t stop there.
In addition to providing patients with differential diagnoses, Avey offers connecting them with the right doctors for their cases, especially if the cases require physical examinations, lab tests, or radiology scans.
“We understand that AI can have limitations sometimes, and that there might be a physical examination, or a follow-up needed, or just that the patient feels more comfortable seeing a human doctor.
“The interesting feature in Avey is that it accumulates information about doctors at hospitals and clinics. Based on the information it collects about the patient and the doctor, it does what we call ‘personalized matching’ whereby it matches the patient’s case with the right doctors and sorts them accordingly.
“It also allows you to schedule an appointment, either virtually or physically, with a click of a button and with a reduced waiting time using smart algorithms,” Dr. Hammoud explained.
And should the doctor prescribe a medicine, it can be delivered to the patient’s house within less than two hours. This is because Rimads’ pharmaceutical ecommerce platform uses full automatic synchronization with partner pharmacies and reduces delivery time using specific algorithms.
“We care so much about operating with excellence and offering our users the best experience and services. So far, we have signed contracts with more than 30 companies, and have also partnered with Microsoft and got a grant from them,” Dr. Hammoud added.
We delivered thousands and thousands of medicine packages to people across Qatar, even during the peak of the pandemic
Opportunity in disguise
Speaking about the challenges that Dr. Hammoud faced when developing his start-up, he explained that the core challenge was to develop an algorithm that could mimic clinical reasoning. For him, this was one of the most challenging areas that he had worked on in the past 17 years of his life as a computer scientist.
He said: “We failed several times, but I was determined to solve it. Eventually we succeeded, and this was mostly because we had access to the right talent in Education City. Because if you want to create an innovative and unique service or product, you would need the right people to do so.
“Another major challenge that we faced was regulation. Sadly, innovation and regulation are not neck-and-neck, and innovation is always ahead of regulation, which creates a big challenge for entrepreneurs.”
Although Dr. Hammoud has been working on this project for more than two years and faced many delays, his company was launched at the right time – when the pandemic hit the world all of a sudden.
“As the pandemic started to break out, our system was ready – particularly the pharmaceutical part. Then it grew exponentially, and we delivered thousands and thousands of medicine packages to people across Qatar, even during the peak of the pandemic. Rimads was on the ground, and our team was working day and night to provide the best service to the people in Qatar. And we will continue doing that,” Dr. Hammoud said.