Patrick Howie, CEO, MediFind
For decades, many industries and several productivity experts have assigned a dollar value to time. But, in healthcare, the value of time is associated with lives more than it is with dollars. Any patient facing a complex or challenging health condition would likely agree that nothing is more valuable than time. The story behind the inception of MediFind, a promising healthcare startup, highlights how timely care and expert consultation is essential for better patient outcomes.
It all began six years ago when MediFind founder & CEO Patrick Howie’s brother, Dennis Howie, was diagnosed with a semi-rare cancer. The family did everything they could to find the best care possible. However, it nearly took over three months to find an expert surgeon and over a year to find out about a relatively novel treatment option. Later, when the surgeon gave up saying, “there is nothing more we can do for you,” the family changed strategy. At the time, Howie was leading a global data analytics practice at a major pharmaceutical company. This role gave him unique access to unparalleled analytic capabilities that were able to quickly surface the top global experts, trials, and treatment options for his brother’s specific disease. Using this information, the family was able to identify a new treatment. Unfortunately, this intervention was too late to help.
Looking back, Howie wondered what more he could have done to increase his brother’s life expectancy. When researching his brother’s health journey, he realized how much time had been lost to navigating the health system, and how many missed opportunities there may have been along the way. Astonishingly, his research identified a world-class expert living only 90 miles away, but by the time the family found him, it was too late to matter.
“Only if I had known ways to find other treatments and leading doctors sooner, perhaps I could have helped extended my brother’s life span,” says Patrick Howie, CEO of MediFind with conviction. Howie also realized his brother’s experience was tragic, but not unique, leading to the creation of MediFind.
These days, there are millions of people facing very challenging diseases who need help better navigating the health system. In fact, according to one study, “88 percent of initial diagnoses are changed or revised.” This means consulting a doctor, even one with a five-star review, doesn’t necessarily suffice. Patients need better information so they can make the most informed health decisions.
To address these issues, Howie, along with his team, developed an advanced healthcare platform. “Our ultimate objective with this platform is to help patients living with the most complex and challenging illnesses find experts and treatments faster, so they can pursue better care,” explains Howie.
Given the surging rate of new research, even doctors struggle to keep up with all the advances for any given condition. MediFind uses the combined power of big data, machine learning techniques, natural language processing (NLP), and a team of medical experts to integrate doctor and health information from dozens of datasets. This allows the company to identify the true global experts in a particular field, as well as simplify the latest research advances so they’re more actionable by everyday patients. MediFind covers 2.5 million global physicians, and analyzes over one million research reports, presentations, and clinical trial results published every year. From symptoms to finding a doctor to staying current on latest research, MediFind has the patient journey covered.
For the road ahead, the company seeks to strengthen its presence in the online market to best connect with patients who are most in need of support. MediFind is also working toward making their platform portable to reach people wherever they are. The company recently launched a free widget that enables trusted partner organizations to embed the MediFind technology directly on their websites, bringing this information to the front lines of patient care. Initially built to help patients and their families locate top doctors, the MediFind will ultimately support a library of widgets that address the various needs of different organizations, including finding second opinion options, clinical trials, and latest research.