Most of you know me as the co-founder and COO of doc.ai, but my healthcare adventure started with my youngest son. In 2004, at the age of 5, his life and the life of my entire family changed forever. I should have seen the signs; however, I did not realize how intertwined his reality and fantasy life was. He wanted to be a superhero who could fly to the moon.
This ended in a terrible accident, a fall of 12 meters resulting in a severe brain injury leaving him in a coma for months before he could start his lifelong rehabilitation while coping with a series of serious medical issues. This was when I came to the harsh realization that medical breakthroughs happen a lot through trial and error and tragic accidents, like my son’s.
We all have a healthcare story. What is yours? Most of the time we deal with chronic conditions, or our parents develop common symptoms in old age, or in the most extreme cases like mine our kids suffer from sudden illness or injury that leave us feeling overwhelmed with unanswered questions. While medicine can be extraordinary — I admire the doctors who saved my son’s life — one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last 15 years is that medicine ultimately involves long-term research involving patients and caregivers.
My son Nelson invited to visit Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA for his birthday in 2016
Most of us in the medical field spend hours studying medical literature while also trying to connect with others.
One of my big efforts has been to connect with patients like me or my son. We have questions, and we need answers. We track our symptoms, we log our data, and we look for ways to maintain good health. It hit me a few years ago when one of my friends approached me with an Excel sheet she had been using for years to collect and log her daughter’s epileptic seizures. I understood what she was trying to do because my son suffers from seizures too, and I was trying to do the same thing as a way to anticipate or prevent his seizures. She also asked me if I could build an algorithm to find patterns. Back then, unfortunately, I could not help her. It was 2012.
Today I can. For the last 2 years, the doc.ai team has been building what I like to call a medical research companion enabling patients to collect all their medical data on their phones using AI-powered tools such as the medical selfie, as well as give them the opportunity to join data trials, real world data driven medical research projects that matter to them and their loved ones.
It is free and you completely own and control your data. Simply put, this is what it does: in a few minutes you can collect all your medical data, choose the research project you’re interested in, and check your eligibility while the data matching is done automatically. The rest is tracking and getting insights on your health and rewards.
The doc.ai medical research companion has been live on the App Store since last summer, and we’re seeing the first few hundred participants enrolling in clinical trials. What would have taken years now takes only weeks.
Our team of data scientists is starting to look at the data, and soon participants will start receiving their first insights via the app. These are the early days of this ideal partnership between patients, doctors and researchers, where we can accelerate research with entire communities of patients.
My son did not make it to the moon, but he is alive and kicking, showing us every day what a real superhero is made of. Still, after 15 years, we still have so many unanswered questions. So in my world, by accelerating every trial, by removing every error from the equation, and by making every data collection event smarter and faster, we can enjoy a very simple big win.