AI-based clinical assistant Kahun raises $8 million

Israeli AI-based clinical assistant Kahun has completed an $8 million seed funding round led by LocalGlobe with participation from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund as part of the EIC Accelerator program and The Founders Kitchen (TFK). This brings the total raised by the company to date to $13 million.

Current AI tools for healthcare providers have failed to address the current challenges and gain the trust of the medical community. They use a combination of big-data engines built on patient records and expert knowledge, not on evidence-based medical literature like Kahun’s tool.

The company was founded by a team that mostly comes from the technology world. CEO Eitan Ron and CTO Tal Goldberg founded Human Click, which was acquired by LivePerson (Nasdaq: LPSN ; TASE: LPSN ) for $9 million, then representing 15% of LivePerson, which today has a market capitalization of about $700 million. Ron and Goldberg became executives at Liveperson, and Goldberg even moved on to various positions at Waze, now part of Google. But a few years ago, the two decided to open their own company again together with chief physician Michal Tzuchman Katz.

30 million compounds modeling the medical data available in the literature

Unlike some of the other companies in the field, whose algorithm is built by scanning huge databases of medical records, Kahun’s algorithm is based on the medical literature. Based on a review of medical articles, the company has built a map containing 30 million compounds that it believes represent the medical knowledge available in the literature, and its algorithm runs on this map.

Ron said: “This is a significant feature of our company’s technology. When we propose a diagnosis or treatment method, we can immediately refer to the source in the literature where this idea appears, and the doctor can examine the quality of the literature that offers the same solution.

“This compares to a system that runs on medical records and draws insights from them, but it acts as a ‘black box’ and we humans don’t know how to critique its recommendations or neutralize its biases.”

What deficiency is this system designed to fill? Shortage of medical staff? Or give medicine in a place where there are no doctors?

“No, we don’t replace a doctor, but help them. In the first step, we help doctors think. Even today, they use a computer to think, but they make a search that only bears fruit if they already have a kind of a hypothesis about what’s going on.”

A mass application was not profitable

The company first followed the accepted business models in the content application area. The product was released to the market in early 2021 and was initially offered for free to encourage use. The app reached about 7,000 users, but it was not sufficient to support such a business model. “We recognized relatively quickly that most doctors think they know what they are doing. The increase in the use of the application was not fast enough to support the model of distributing the application for free and then transferring some of the users to premium need a fee. The frequency of use was also not high.”

At this point, the company decided to change its approach a bit and position the application as a questioning tool for the patient, so that when they come to the doctor, the doctor already has in front of them the list of symptoms that the patient described, as well as some insights that the system provides. From the doctor’s side, the early questioning saves time and ensures that mistakes do not occur, and they get immediate value from that. Hopefully they will also benefit from the insights without having to immediately admit to themselves that they are looking for them.

Starting from telemedicine

“Another change was in the selection of a specific target group of doctors – the world of telemedicine. This world is developing a lot in the United States and is producing a significant change in the medical profession. Telemedicine doctors must act even faster than a doctor in a physical meeting. The saving in question time that the application provides is essential for them. In general, telemedicine doctors are less experienced, and have less of a medical ego.”

The company has yet to register significant revenue. It currently works with two telemedicine companies in the US. In addition, the company’s products are already embedded in Israeli medical content site Infomed, which offers medical content to users based on their symptoms. An agreement has also been signed with the New England Journal of Medicine. As part of this agreement, Kahun’s system will become part of a training program for physicians marketed by the journal.

What is the origin of the name Kahun?

“When we started modeling medical knowledge, we asked ourselves what was the first medical article that was written. We found it, 2000 BC on papyrus in the field of gynecology. I wouldn’t suggest anyone to try that , that was offered there. Kahun is the name of the papyrus, after the village next door where it was found. And what has happened since then? The world has moved on, and doctors still read and remember written texts.”

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on October 2, 2022.

© Copyright by Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.


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