Hospitals are usually founts of information, revealing how many people they serve, how many are treated for what disease, their positive impact on the community, etc. But there’s one data point that hospitals are understandably reticent to share – how many patients picked up an infection inside the institution and subsequently died.
To make sure that patients can find out that information – and any other data they need to determine the effectiveness, safety, and quality of a hospital, Israeli entrepreneur Moni Milchman developed ArchimedicX, the world’s first search engine for information about hospitals.
“There are many comparative engines that will rate the best products, even shoes,” Milchman told The Times of Israel. “But until now there has not been any similar engine for medical care. We decided to fix that.”
It was a personal tragedy that prompted Milchman to act.
“A few years ago my sister went to Belgium for an outpatient ambulatory procedure. She went in in the morning, but by afternoon she had fallen into a coma – and after a week she was dead.”
It was only later that Milchman discovered that the hospital where his sister had been treated had a record of similar in-hospital infections with other patients.
To help others avoid similar tragedies, Milchman created ArchimedicX, a search engine that rates hospitals by procedure, according to hundreds of criteria – staff quality and reputation, number of beds per room, results and repeat treatment statistics, budget, waiting time, language, quality of food, and much more. The search engine – which is free – is available in nine languages, and covers hospitals around the world.
“In most Western countries, the question of what hospital to go to is based on hearsay, with friends and relatives telling each other that they ‘heard’ that an institution is good or bad, especially for elective procedures” said Milchman. “In a few cases you might get a professional opinion, but that could be because the doctor is affiliated with that institution. But in the developing world there are no such opinions – so if you are traveling, ArchimedicX is an essential resource.”
ArchimedicX will be especially useful for medical tourism purposes, said Milchman. The worldwide market for medical tourism in 2014 was $100 billion, and according to a 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center, 80% of Internet users in the US have searched for information about medical conditions, hospital quality, and data about doctors online.
The data ArchimedicX draws upon resides in a database collected by a company called Quomeda, a healthcare big data firm that ArchimedicX bought last year.
“We use various methods to collect data even in cases where hospitals don’t feel like sharing, using unique algorithms to determine information about hospital stays, results, and experiences. With that technology we are able to put together a very accurate picture of what patients experience.”
Currently, the site has information about 300 of the world’s top hospitals, as determined by Quomeda’s metrics; within six months, it will list about 1,000.
That information goes into the database, and when a patient seeks out information about a hospital, it goes into the overall evaluation of the institution, as well as the specifics of the attribute being evaluated. It’s the data that enables ArchimedicX to provide services for free, said Milchman – because the company will be able to sell its anonymized data to pharmaceutical firms, travel agencies, insurance companies, and other organizations that can use it to market products and services.
“Until now there has been no source for them to find hard data about hospitals,” said Milchman. “Reliable search and booking tools already exist in other markets such as travel, financial services, retail and more, but until now not in healthcare, which is far more crucial. Our time has arrived.”