It is undeniable that in most cancer treatment plans, a conclusive diagnosis is an essential first step to recovery. In almost all kinds of cancer, survival rates improve dramatically when patients are diagnosed early. When an individual is well-informed about their illness, they are both able to access essential treatment methods early and to adjust their lifestyle appropriately.
Diagnostic accuracy saves lives. Misdiagnosis, or alternatively, a late diagnosis, can be catastrophic.
However, not all patients have access to the high-quality care they deserve. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that general diagnostic errors affect approximately one in 20 adults each year.
Internationally, these numbers are even greater. Often, health conditions are left untreated or misdiagnosed as a result of a patient’s limited access to well-trained medical professionals in their area. Many patients, unsatisfied with the quality of medical care in their home countries, are beginning to turn to other countries for aid.
This is particularly true in China. CTrip, China’s largest online tourism travel service provider, documents that an average of 500,000 outbound medical trips are taken per year, with half of these being to either Japan or the U.S. However, overseas trips are expensive: not everyone can afford to travel for medical care.
InfiniteMD, a Cambridge-based healthcare startup, hopes to solve this problem.
By providing second-opinion video consultations to patients around the world, InfiniteMD aims to make treatment available to individuals who, due to financial and geographical constraints, don’t have access otherwise. The startup utilizes a comprehensive panel of paid Harvard-affiliated specialists to examine patient cases from a multidisciplinary perspective. In order to ensure the best treatment possible, InfiniteMD recruits only the most experienced specialists in their respective fields; selected specialists have gone through an extensive application process evaluating patient feedback, years of training and experience, and number of impactful publications. So far, InfiniteMD has helped over 1,000 paying patients, mainly from China, to find the treatment plans best suited to them.
Seventy-two percent of InfiniteMD cases have resulted in revised treatment plans, and as time goes on, InfiniteMD aims to assist even more patient populations. “We’re helping to increase the knowledge of cancer therapies and next steps for patients around the world,” says Liz Kwo, InfiniteMD’s co-founder and CEO. “We want them to be able to access not only information on what they should be treated with, but the medicine itself.”
In addition to its telehealth services, InfiniteMD’s specialists also give in-person consultations and informational lectures, sometimes flying to China, or bringing patients to the U.S., to do so. Increasing patient awareness and education on medical conditions is one of the startup’s specialties. “With telemedicine you can really increase reach,” says Kwo. “One specialist doctor in the past could only treat, let’s say, ten patients or 20 patients a day. We can increase their ability to treat more patients by allowing them to do lectures and disseminating that knowledge.”
Unlike many of their competitors, who solely offer video consultations, InfiniteMD’s dedication to delivering as much information as possible to their patients sets them apart from similar startups. In addition, their insistence on employing only screened specialists from high-profile institutions, such as Harvard Medical School, Kwo’s own alma mater, represents the high standard they uphold for consultations.
In the future, InfiniteMD aims to make access to consultations even easier for their patients. Currently, they are working with insurance companies and societies, such as CLL Society, towards making second opinions free for patients. In addition, they are partnering with several hospitals in China to improve communication and ease of access for patients.
Another development InfiniteMD is working on is a diagnosis-proposing AI. “We are working on an AI Algorithm that will allow us to create a decision-support tool for cancer patients so that they can know potential treatment options and next steps,” says Kwo. Kwo estimates that the AI project will be released in June; its first focus will be on breast and lung cancer diagnoses.
Healthcare is a continuously evolving field. Newer and better means of treatment are discovered each and every day, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine standout innovations in the crowd. InfiniteMD however, stands above for the passion its specialists invest in their innovations, their patients, and their work.
For more information about InfiniteMD and their current projects, you can visit their website at https://infinitemd.com/.
Header image provided by InfiniteMD, Liz Kwo
Emily NcNeiece, a sophomore Publishing major at Emerson College, brings to MedTech a lifelong passion for the written word. As a current editor for Emerson’s Generic and Atlas magazines, and a reader for The Emerson Review, Emily loves engaging through text with the world around her. In her spare time, she enjoys cross-country running, short story writing, and watching just a bit too much TV.
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