Newly-launched San Francisco-based e-health platform Amino provides an intuitive interface designed to help people find the healthcare practitioner who best meets their specific needs.

Amino harnesses Big Data to help patients find the right specialist

Newly-launched San Francisco-based e-health platform Amino provides an intuitive interface designed to help people find the healthcare practitioner who best meets their specific needs.
When he left the company where he worked a few years ago, David Vivero discovered that he then had to take out his own private healthcare insurance. For this young entrepreneur, who suffers from a hereditary medical condition, trying to find his way through the notoriously labyrinthine United States health system proved to be a nightmare – finding a doctor with the expertise to treat his condition, in the right geographical area, obtaining insurance, making sure he could use his cover with the doctor he had chosen, and so on. All these different variables meant that his search for healthcare became a real battle. So the Harvard graduate decided to build the tool that he would have liked to have been able to use himself. The outcome of several years of work is Amino, an online health platform which aggregates large volumes of data in order to guide patients in their search for a medical practitioner who meets their criteria. ‟Our solution is based entirely on Big Data, it’s highly personalised, and doesn’t contain any advertising,” says David Vivero, explaining: ‟We aim to help patients make the right choice by offering them personalised, unbiased search results. In a way it’s about combining the rich array of available online information with the trust you would place in a recommendation from friends or family.”

Making data user-friendly

When you go on to the Amino website you are first of all asked to answer some basic questions: the condition for which you are seeking help, your gender, age, address, maximum distance you would be prepared to travel for an appointment with a doctor, your type of insurance policy, etc. Once you have entered this information, the Amino algorithm will search through a huge database – which contains almost every qualified physician in the United States – and draw up a list of healthcare practitioners   who meet your various criteria, also detailing the number of patients with the same condition already treated by each doctor, plus his/her diplomas and other information vouching for his/her qualifications and capabilities. The patient can then arrange an appointment directly with a doctor of his/her choice without quitting the website or picking up a telephone. ‟We’re not just content to gather, process and arrange the data. We want to give the user an interface that’s easy to access, so that s/he can get the most out of it,” David Vivero underlines.

Big Data to improve healthcare

Between setting up the firm two years ago, and launching the website in mid-October, Vivero and his team have of course sorted carefully through masses of data and processed it for use. They have taken healthcare transaction data from some 188 million US citizens and also carried out numerous surveys among patients in order to understand their needs more fully. Amino asked healthcare consumers about how they communicate with the medical world on complex health questions, especially the terminology they use, in order to make the search engine as powerful and accurate as possible. So far Amino has raised $20 million in funding from various investors. The US medical system has often been criticised for its complexity and its many gaps in comparison with healthcare provision in other developed countries. Accordingly, there are today a large number of startups in the United States working to improve the patient experience. L’Atelier reported recently on New York-based startup Wellthy, whose aim is to help the family and friends of elderly people in need of care to find assistance with all their day-to-day needs.

By Guillaume Renouard