An innovative new medical startup in Romania helped doctors from three countries collaborate to treat Ukrainian cancer patients made refugees after Russia’s brutal invasion.
The “Tumor Board” project was initiated by doctors from the U.S., Romania and Moldova to provide life-saving treatments for displaced Ukrainians with cancer.
A collaboration of Heal 21 Association and Blue Heron Foundation, the board used a platform provided by Romanian startup Medicai to connect doctors, share medical files and provide a platform to discuss treatment plans, as well as allow the patients to track their own progress.
Starting in April, imaging of the cancer patients from Ukraine was uploaded (those who had it), the new imaging from Moldava were translated from Ukrainian to Romanian/English and reports were prepared for each patient.
Medicai, which has raised €1.2 million in venture funding to date, says its web based HIPAA-compliant platform hopes to become a sort of “Miro for health”, allowing healthcare professionals to collaborate over patient documents and records.
The problem Medicai is solving sounds familiar. For example, to this day, patients go into a $1 million MRI machine and -- generally speaking -- walk out with a CD disk with an image of their knee or some other part of their body. It’s just one example of how data can be siloed and how patients are usually locked into large, centralized systems. This means medical professionals can’t easily collaborate with specialists outside of their hospitals.
Established corporates selling these centralized systems include BoxDICOM and Ambra Health, and amongst the startups there is EnvoyAI and Collective Minds Radiology (which raised $6.7 million), among others.
Medicai founder Mircea Popa's journey in healthcare started in 2011 when, with a friend of his, he co-founded a company that is now called SkinVision, a skin cancer screening app that detects melanoma (skin cancer) through ML algorithms applied on images taken with smartphones. SkinVision reached 1.2 million downloads and raised a total of $15 million in total. Medicai co-founder Alexandru Artimon (CTO) previously co-founded software company Atta Systems.
Popa told me via email: "One lesson we've learned lately about healthcare is that we desperately need flexibility. With the Tumor Board project we've shown that Medicai can set up infrastructure in a matter of days to provide access to expertise across 2 continents: US & Canada to Romania and Moldavia - and this was done in less than ideal conditions.”
“Through the Tumor Board project we were able to touch the lives of oncological patients that would have had no other option in seeking treatment and we're really proud to be a part of that,” he added.
So far Medicai says it has reached 29 paying clinics/hospitals, with 2,434 doctors accounts and 1,400 patients accounts. It’s also claimed a strategic partnership with Microsoft and pharmaceutical companies.
Investors to date include D Moonshots, Cleverage Venture Capital, Roca X and Gapminder VC.
Meanwhile the Tumor Board project continues. If there are the predicted four million Ukrainian refugees arriving in the coming months, there could be between 13,000 and 16,000 new patients with cancer per month arriving in countries bordering Ukraine.