For people struggling with a disease or a chronic health condition, more than just their physical health is at stake. These experiences can also take a toll on patient’s mental and emotional health, and those can have a huge impact on how well a patient deals with their condition.
That’s something Lynda Brown-Ganzert learned first hand when she struggled with fertility and a complicated pregnancy.
“It was really isolating, and really difficult to find what I needed,” she told GeekWire.
Brown-Ganzert had spent her entire career in digital media, but she found herself struggling to find resources on her condition and connect to social support from other patients.
She thought to herself, “woah, wait a minute. I’ve worked in tech my entire life — if I’m not able to find this easily, what about folks that are not like me?”
In 2013, Brown-Ganzert teamed up with developer and entrepreneur Alireza Davoodi to found Curatio, a social networking platform for patients looking to connect with each other and with trusted health information. The platform officially launches today, and Brown-Ganzert said she hopes it will help patients around the world improve their physical health by improving their social and emotional health.
The platform relies on machine learning for its two main purposes: connecting users with each other to help form social support, and connecting patients with validated information about their condition. It can also be used by caregivers of patients.
Unlike other online resources, such as Facebook support groups, Curatio is also designed to protect patient privacy and ensure the content they are accessing has been validated by medical experts.
Brown-Ganzert said Curatio’s services fills a huge hole in the patient experience.
There are plenty of casual support groups out there, but “what we haven’t seen is that type of proprietary matchmaking that we’ve built — both matching people to people and people to content — along with some of our initial work in AI,” she said. “I think it’s pretty exciting in terms of democratizing healthcare, so that you can come into a platform like Curatio and have the type of concierge service where we can help you find people you relate to and content,” all on a private platform.
Curatio’s combination of privacy and personalization is its secret sauce, and studies of the platform’s first users show that it has a real impact on patient health. A clinical study found that 75 percent of Curatio’s initial users were already showing improved health behaviors and 80 percent showed increased interest in personal health management.
Brown-Ganzert said the startup is also considering expanding the platform to be used for other communities, like those with mental health and the LGBT community. The company is also taking part in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s eHealth Innovations Partnership Program.
The startup has raised $1.5 million in investments so far, she said, and even went on Dragon’s Den last week, receiving offers from all of the investment show’s star judges. Curatio is headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., with about a dozen employees based in that office and around the world.
Curatio will be licensed to healthcare providers and is free for patients to use. It is currently available as a web application and on iOS and will launch on Android devices soon.