Student startup Expat Care looks to reduce loss of medical knowledge
Expat Care's software aims to help doctors share results of treatments with other doctors across the world.
“It was just a great idea that had to happen,” Patrick Kwete, a University of Nebrsaka at Omaha bioinformatics student, said of his brainwave of January 2011. Expat Care, a software system designed to facilitate easier communication about treatment results between doctors across the globe, was incorporated last summer.
While talking with doctors and med students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Kwete heard repeatedly that the issue of personalized health care is complex. Individual case studies of each patient’s treatment are cost-prohibitive and time-consuming, impractical for both doctor and patient. According to a video on Expat Care’s website, vital experience is lost, time is wasted, mistakes are made and the cost of giving and receiving care goes up when a doctor in, say, Omaha has no idea that the treatment prescribed by a doctor in Saudi Arabia is more effective than a different treatment prescribed in France.
“Our software learns without a clinical trial,” Kwete (left) said. “If a certain drug consistently outperforms another, the software sees that through the results entered by the doctors.” He also plans to build systems that integrate Expat Care with the major technologies hospitals already use so as to eliminate as much manual data entry as possible. “Doctors don’t have time to enter a lot of information and figure this stuff out,” he said. “That’s why the manual is one page.”
When pressed about what the FDA, for example, might think of this new method of data sharing, Kwete admitted that Expat Care is a disruptive technology. “The idea is to distribute this information to anyone who needs it and take the authority out of the hands of anyone who might not want that to happen,” he said. “It basically changes everything.”
Fellow UNO students Iyad Aldalooj (pursuing his master’s degree in structural engineering) and Zed Zha (graduated and pursuing her M.D.) are Kwete’s colleagues in bringing Expat Care to the attention of hospitals and doctors around the world.
“When I first saw it,” Aldalooj said of Kwete’s software, “I asked, 'Why is this not everywhere?' " He’s discovering that while doctors are excited about Expat Care’s possibilities, larger hospitals need convincing that exchanging information with competitors is a good thing. “It’s not stealing but sharing,” Aldalooj said. “You’re not losing.”
Kwete, Aldalooj and Zha have compiled a list of about ten hospitals, scattered across the globe from Pennsylvania to Saudi Arabia to China to India, that are interested in adopting Expat Care. “No one wants to be the first,” Aldalooj explained, so each of the ten will receive their contracts and begin using the software at roughly the same time by the beginning of 2013.
Kwete said Expat Care plans to operate on a subscription model, charging customers $150 per month to use the software. He said the company also has plans to generate revenue by selling advertising.
With enough private investment to grow the company “for now,” according to Kwete, and patent pending status for its software, Expat Care has set up office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, close to Aldalooj’s hometown. About twenty people are working globally with Kwete, Aldalooj and Zha to act as support for those hospitals that do plan to adopt the software, as well as finding more doctors interested in Expat Care.
“The main response we’re getting is, 'Why hasn’t this been done already?' ” Kwete said.
For more on Expat Care, see the introductory video below.