You may not appreciate the Facebook sagas your friends post about their personal health issues, but one company has figured out how to do something useful with them.
A startup called Treato has developed a platform that combs the Web for health-related discussions to create a Google-meets-WebMD for all of us.
The idea is that the healthcare industry is in need of a human voice. You can go to the doctor and get medical recommendations for a certain condition or ache, but Treato will help you get some raw feedback from your peers.
“[Let’s say] I’m suffering from my knee, yeah I can go to an orthopedist, I’ve done that, completely useless, now what?” Treato CEO Ido Hadari told Business Insider. “What did this guy do, what did she do? Maybe they found something great at Walgreens to relieve the tension, maybe there’s a great person in Chelsea who does acupuncture that can solve the problem for me. How are they managing this and when they got this initially what did they do? These are the types of insights patients are looking for.”
Treato provides you with that information by scraping tens of thousands of sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and niche discussion forums for specific conditions. It uses its own neuro-linguistic programming technology to weed through the massive amounts of posts and pull out meaningful as opposed to anecdotal information.
The startup is selling the data to Pharma companies — nine of out of the top 50 use Treato — but it’s making a curated subset available to the general public.
For instance, if you search for Advil on Treato, the site will give you tons of interesting information based on 183,075 patient discussions.
First it compares ratings for pain medications — Aleve gets the highest ratings. Then it lists common concerns with the drug, which stretch from numbness to depression to stomach problems. Then you can actually read what patients are saying about Advil across the Web — 11,678 of which are positive and 4,337 of which are negative.
If you search a condition like stomach pain, you’ll get some interesting results as well. First it lists possible medication such as Prilosec and Nexium. Then it lists vitamins that are most frequently discussed with stomach pain. Next you can browse through related conditions and symptoms, and then you can see what people are saying about stomach pain across the Web.
“If you’re looking for the clinical kind of traditional medicine, medically driven data sets, there’s a whole host of them,” Hadari said. “You won’t get the human factor, you won’t get the why, you won’t get the colour, what are their questions, what are they concerned about, what’s working what’s not working, what are the opportunities, you won’t get they’re switching behaviour and why are they switching, you won’t get how are they really using the drug, you’re not going to get their interaction between them and their physicians. You’re not going to get their financial considerations.”
Treato wants to give you “a very detailed and accurate depiction of what does the real world looks like, not the textbook, the real world,” Hadari said.