A New York City startup called The Mednettoday launched a platform thatgives physicians a knowledge-sharing tool thats as easy to use as Quora, but provides them with expert answers about the latest research in their field. The site has focused, so far, strictly on cancer.
Due to rules governing medical information and patients privacy, questions posted to The Mednet cannot be case-based. They are situation-based only, meaning doctors dont share patient info, not even blurred photos.
While the startups site, theMednet.org, has been in development for about 2.5 years, the company officially launched today and is part of the latest batch of the Y Combinator accelerator. Co-founders Nadine Housri, a radiation oncologist, and her brother CEO Samir Housri told TechCrunch their company has raised some grant funding and equity funding to date, including from YC and The Hope Foundation.
Results on the platform have been hope-inspiring so far to Nadine Housri, shesaid. Cancer experts regularly help each other there to figure out complex issues that will immediately impact their patients. For example, a new study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine came out, and an investigator in that study, Howard Sandler, answered questions about it on The Mednet, helping other doctors decide whether or not to use hormones, along with radiation, to treat a prostate cancer patient.
His study had found thatadding hormonal therapy to radiation treatment improvedthe average long-term survival of men with prostate cancer who have had their prostate gland removed. But of course, the science was complicated and the regimen wasnt recommended for any or every patient.
Nadine Housrisaid when theMednet.org first launched, she wasnt sure if oncologists, professors, department chairs and other cancer researchers would be too busy to give away their expertise on some new online platform. But, she explained, Experts are willing to give away info to random people here because they constantly field phone calls, emails and answer questions at medical conferences anyway. One reason you go into academia or medicine is to have a great impact on people, on your community. On Mednet experts can put their answers out there, clear up misconceptions on research and clinical practices.
Like many startups, The Mednet has spent its early yearsfocused on building an expert user community, and becoming a vital resource tousers,as well. The Housris said their network will always be accessible for free to doctors, and they want it to serve as a knowledge base for medicine broadly. The company plans to expand beyond oncology over the long run.
It is exploring the potential togenerate revenue by helping companies raise awareness of and enroll patients in their clinical trials. It could also aggregate some of its expert answers into automated decision support for clinics, the founder said. Depending on its monetization strategy, The Mednet could compete with online resources for physicians like Figure 1 or UpToDate over the long run. But when it comes to medicine, there probably cant be too many tools to help peopleget good, up-to-date information.