Editor's Note: This post is a translation of an article by Avishai Bessa originally published in Hebrew on June 11, 2013, on Geektime, Israel's leading tech blog.
The Israeli startup is offering an easy-to-use “push” technological platform that provides information about medications, operations, and other medical matters by means of video clips that go directly to the patient.
Name of Startup: Telesofia
One-line pitch: Making medical information clearer and more accessible by means of video clips that are personally tailored to the user.
Use of Windows Azure: An Azure-based infrastructure for processing and presenting dynamic videos is able to adapt itself to heavy and changing traffic loads. Azure’s infrastructures include many mechanisms that simplify the development of complex systems and provide efficient tools for product development.
One of the most common consumer problems in today’s modern medicine, particularly from the patient’s point of view, is that most people (87%, to be exact) can’t understand the medical information they receive or don’t know how to use it. The classic example is the pharmaceutical prescription. If the physician or pharmacist tells patients to take two pills twice a day, only 50 percent of the patients will understand that they must take two pills in the morning and another two in the evening. The others will believe they’re supposed to take a total of two pills a day, or will misunderstand in some other way.
In the US alone the consequences of this problem amount to over $200 billion in damages from wrong dosages and similar errors. The challenge is being taken up by the Israeli company Telesofia Medical, whose goal is to make medical information more accessible to consumers. In fact, the company is attempting to improve accessibility not only for pharmaceutical information but also for other medical issues such as briefing patients before surgery — how to get ready for the operation, what specifically the surgeon will be doing, and so on — by means of explanatory video clips.
The video clips are delivered by push. That is to say, it is not the patient’s task to go find the appropriate clip; instead the patient receives a link to the clip in the form of a text message or e-mail which is automatically generated according to the patient’s personal medical data and the physician’s or pharmacist’s instructions. The medical team personally sends the video to the patient in a simple, known format such as MP4 or WebM, suitable for viewing on the patient’s own device — whether a smart phone, a tablet, or a PC — without any necessary installation of an external application or codec. Alternatively, the patient can look up the appropriate video in the company’s online library of clips about medications.
The video clips that the company creates for patients are dynamic and can be personalized by the doctor, pharmacist, or drugstore chain that supplies the patient with the medicine or advice, including the ability to add their own branding to the clip, thus strengthening patient trust. According to Telesofia, the information is based on analysis of the instruction leaflets that accompany medications and includes clear distinctions between men and women, specific instructions and cautions for pregnant women, elderly men, and so on.
Soon at a Pharmacy Near You
The company’s business model focuses primarily in the area of the Medication Library and is currently in advanced negotiations with several potential clients, including drugstore chains. The company puts its API at the disposal of these suppliers, enabling them to access the clips that it creates and send them over their own systems, thus allowing them to create a relationship with their customers that lasts beyond the purchase itself. The company receives income from a number of sources — small clients pay a fixed a monthly fee, while large clients pay according to the volume of videos created specifically for them. The company’s database, which is automatically updated from the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), currently includes more than 2,000 medications.
For the system’s development, the company raised more than $1M, mostly from private investors in the pharmaceutical and video fields, including Dan Ziskind, Board Member of Teva Corporation, Michal Tsur and Eran Etam from Kaltura, Chaim Friedman from Abbott, and other physicians and technological experts. The company is currently raising a second round of funding, led by Ed Michael of the LionBird venture capital fund.
Additionally, the company offers interaction with medical applications through an API that enables developers to send queries to the system and integrate its video clips into their own applications, using the file type and player appropriate for the platform that hosts the application.
Telesofia was founded in 2011 by Rami Cohen, who was joined some months later by Tzvi Rotshtein, Danny Ben Shitrit, and Guy Einy, all of whom had previously held senior posts at ICQ. The company currently has 15 employees in its Tel Aviv and New York offices.