Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.
The following is an interview we recently had with Walter De Brouwer, CEO of Doc.ai.
1. What’s the history of Doc.ai? How and where did you begin?
WD: Doc.ai was founded about 18 months ago (August 2016) in Palo Alto, Calif. It closed its seed round in December 2016, lead by Comet Labs and inked its first distribution agreement with Deloitte in May 2017. Jeremy Howard came on board as Chief Scientific Officer in June 2017, during the same time Doc.ai unveiled its closed beta of the hematology robo-advisor. A month later, we started our Initial Coin Offering (ICO) campaign, which closed in October 2017 having raised about $10m mostly in bitcoin. Since then, we’ve released the inclusive AI online that predicts phenome parameters based on your selfie and an exposomics module on Github for developers to build upon. And just this month we opened sign-ups for early access to our product, which is expected this spring, and already have more than 9,700 people on the waiting list.
2. Who are the founders and key team members?
Walter De Brouwer Ph.D, Co-founder and CEO
Sam De Brouwer, Co-founder and COO
Alan Greene, MD Co-founder and CMO
Anthea Chung, CPA, Co-founder and CFO
Jeremy Howard, Chief Scientific Officer
Apurv Mishra, CTO
Aksha Mishra, VP of Engineering
Elinor Huang, MBA, Director of Quantitative Marketing
3. What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for?
WD: Today our healthcare data is spread over many locations, living in silos. No one entity has a comprehensive picture of our health, and we don’t even own our own data. Doc.ai helps to aggregate that data encrypted and decentralized into one place (on the edge of the network, our smartphone) where we have control over this information.
4. What is your solution to this problem?
WD: Collecting the data is only the appetizer of what the NEURON network offers. Once the data is acquired it enables the owners to train their own medical AI. Expose the AI to more information and it gets better at predicting outcomes.
The collected biological markers are giving an initial value and can be sold, shared or donated in data trials that go on over the NEURON network. The end-users can either participate in them by opting in (when the exclusion criteria are met) or by organizing their own trials in group or individually. In that way, a biomarket is created that converts collected longitudinal and ambient data from end-users to a financial asset.
5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?
WD: The healthcare industry in the USA is a $3 trillion dollar industry that is clearly broken, evidenced most recently by the decision of Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to form their own, private healthcare company for their employees. Sadly, though, this won’t solve the problem of data silos in healthcare.
But there is hope. What we see now is the perfect storm, the combination of precision medicine, AI, and blockchain. These things together make change possible. Networks of the future will be fueled by individuals who are empowered by digital currency to share and exchange information and data that AI and machine learning can interpret to improve well being. Doc.ai is building that future today.
6. What’s the future of your industry?
WD: A seller’s market will become a buyer’s market: patients will have more power over their healthcare delivery. Prices will go down and quality and service will go up because monopolies will be broken by the free market. Doctors will be better equipped to diagnose and treat patients, especially those with rare diseases. Data will belong to individuals, not institutions.
Replacing the doctor with an intelligent medical robot is a recurring theme in science fiction, but the idea of individualised medical advice from digital assistants, supported by self-surveillance smartphone data, no longer seems implausible. The Lancet, editorial (December 2017)