Changing access to healthcare through artificial intelligence
Founded in the heart of Berlin, AI-powered diagnostics app Ada is bringing healthcare to everyone.
The start-up business Ada Health was founded in 2011 by a team of doctors, scientists and engineers in Berlin Kreuzberg. Ada offers a free AI-powered platform that is helping millions of people around the world understand their health symptoms and navigate to the appropriate care. Their sophisticated artificial intelligence technology also supports clinical decision making and enables payers and providers to deliver quality, more effective healthcare.
Ada launched globally in 2016, has since been the number 1 medical app in over 130 countries and operates today out of Berlin, Munich and London.
Designed to grow smarter as users engage with it
Ada’s AI-powered technology has been trained over several years by doctors and experts to build up its AI-powered knowledge base using thousands of real-life cases. After typing in age, gender and symptom, Ada asks the user several questions about the most likely causes and provides suggestions on how to solve the health issues.
Without ever meeting the patient in person, Ada can match thousands of symptoms and diseases - more than a human brain is capable of. However, the app is not intended to replace a doctor, but to make consultations more effective.
Ada initially started out as a platform service for doctors and was then altered to focus to the patient’s side, empowering them to make informed choices about their health conditions and avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor. “Right from the beginning, we started building something that has a deep medical knowledge that covers rare conditions as well as common straightforward conditions”, explains pathologist and neuroscientist Dr. Claire Novorol from the founding team. “We're now a platform connecting patients and doctors. At the end of the assessment, you can share your assessment with a doctor, who is assisted by Ada’s doctor-facing technology on their side of the platform.”
Why Ada chose Berlin as their head location
The heart of Berlin Kreuzberg has been the place where Ada took their first steps and it remains the company’s headquarters to this day. And no wonder, the city is proving very attractive to med-tech companies and start-ups alike. Currently, 300 med-tech and 240 biotech companies, as well as 30 pharmaceuticals manufacturers, are located in Berlin.
In part due to the considerably lower cost structure, co-founder Dr. Martin Hirsch thinks that Berlin “offers excellent conditions for establishing businesses and can easily match its tech competitors London, San Francisco and New York.” He also points out that Berlin’s “inspiring environment of people with multicultural backgrounds and an open, global mindset” attracts talent and skilled workers from all over the world which supports ideal conditions for establishing global services.
Another aspect in favour of Berlin is the connection to many excellent scientific organizations. In the eyes of Dr. Hirsch, internationally renowned research institutions such as Charité provide the “best possible network”.
Poised to changing the future of global access to healthcare through AI
Among Ada’s initial project partners are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foundation Botnar, which is applying the latest technology to improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents in low-and-middle-income countries across the globe. This partnership will open up Ada’s health advice to at least 2 million people in areas with little access to hospitals and health providers.
“More than four billion people around the world do not have access to health information or basic medical services (...) we are particularly committed to supporting people in Tanzania, which is why we are working on a version of Ada in Swahili.” - Dr Hirsch
Ada will also be putting an emphasis on preventing potentially deadly epidemics in developing countries, through AI research. “The software will be customized for certain countries by collecting data on the prevalence of diseases, like malaria, that are more common in the developing world than in the West,” says Daniel Nathrath.
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Text: Melissa Embury for Uhura Creative Media
Header image: Ada Health GmbH