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Elina Lipska

AI Program alumnus Medvice: a brave wish to bring changes and disrupt a vicious circle of healthcare

A professional look at the weak spots
Tareq Jaber – CEO and Co-founder of Medvice shared with us a story about founding and managing a healthcare startup with his brother Ziyaad Jaber. A story about two doctors who could no longer stand the difficulties caused by a lack of organization and at the same time, were fascinated by rapid technology growth.

In such a broad and diverse area as medicine, the brothers defined a narrow niche that focuses on automation within family medicine. Medvice’s mission is to make primary healthcare more accessible by offering AI-powered smart-solution to patients, doctors and clinics that improve experience and efficiency in healthcare. The aim is to relieve the process of lots of ill-conceived steps; waiting an eternity to get an appointment, increasing costs and most of all, eliminating unnecessary visits.

Future of AI – an alternative, not a replacement
Through dealing with sensitive medical data, patients’ lives are also influenced. One mistake could be disastrous. That’s why Medvice wants to make sure that personal information is secure and that by using the created software a patient’s health gets better, not worse. Tareq Jaber is convinced that the solution lies in deeper research, validation and trust in AI. Which Jaber emphasizes, is about trust and not dependence. All these concerns strengthen the belief that a robot for AI cannot easily replace a doctor and set a diagnosis. A doctor is substantial in making conclusions and associations with no obvious evidence. Medvice wants to stay decisive so it is able to observe and correct the process. With this approach, we hope that in the future we can turn science fiction into science fact.

AI essentially facilitates our lives by automating things – removing the human element. It is very smart, but it will always be dedicated to a limited range of options. However, the opportunities for a human, in this case, are limitless. “You can teach AI to pour a glass of wine which it can perform 10,000 times better than a person, but does that make it smarter than a specific person? Not sure if it’s a revolution, but I expect a big future for AI” – says Jaber.

Ready to face and overcome challenges
Before reaching that milestone you need to overcome many obstacles. “You have money, you have resources: go and open a shop if you want. But if you want to create a startup which will go along with something that you’ve never tried before – you cannot do that in just one day.” – states Jaber. The biggest challenge for Medvice was access to market and getting people to believe in what they are doing. In the Netherlands, it’s hard to get support at the very beginning. Conservative traditions reflected in the rules and laws regarding healthcare might significantly delay you. The toughest test in terms of stability and solid products lie within the functionality of the technical team. Creating a completely different collective with thoughtful alignment has become imperative to the business.

In the meantime, the team is focused on product development for the automation of doctoral processes inside the clinic. A special customization tool was the key factor in bringing this idea to life. Moreover, its true value was unpredictably high and led to another breakthrough idea – expanding the product into secondary healthcare by slightly altering the tool itself. Taking a look from a different perspective will allow you to notice a broader spectrum of possibilities.

Through due diligence and reasonable approach, Medvice is getting increasing interest from investors who are waiting for the product to be complete, waiting for the moment to see if it does what it promises to. This pilot period is planned for Q1, 2020. Another long-term goal is research on AI in collaboration with the University of Delft and the University of Leiden that will hopefully lead to developing a more accurate tool.

Rockstart: believe that it’s your reality
There was a startup, a team, but no concrete focus point. Eventually, there were two reasons that motivated the startup to take part in the Rockstart AI Program 2018. Firstly, access to the network – a chance to build useful network. For example, during its participation in the program, Medvice was seen by Telegraaf – the largest newspaper in Holland. This connection positively affected recognition, credibility, and exposure. Secondly, help to find a focus and guidance along the way. The Rockstart AI Program seemed like a really good opportunity to be able to work together and help each other to grow. Afterwards, being an alumnus gave a strong place in the market and the honor of being part of the best AI startups.

“Rockstart is a big help, but it is not going to give and do everything. Keep focused even if you have this support, remain operative and decisive” – this insight has become the main takeaway. Lots of startups have a risk of falling back into what they were. Consequently, Jaber insists on taking Rockstart seriously because, in the end, you as a startup founder have to take responsibility. And even if things don’t work out – always keep trying. There will always be critique and a variety of opinions – use it to get the best out of you.

Jaber felt Rockstart Deep Dive events were the most helpful activity, the absence of which would not allow him to have experienced Rockstart in the right way. “I realized why Rockstart is so good! Its atmosphere and positive energy around startups make everything more believable. Before the program, nobody was saying: “Hey, look at them! – It lets cool people find you. If Rockstart would ask me to join again, I would definitely do it!”


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