Bridging the global radiology gap

By Nahla El Gendy

According to the World Health organization, in many medical cases worldwide, clinical considerations are not enough to make a correct diagnosis. radiology, or diagnostic imaging, allows doctors to see inside the body, providing detailed information that is crucial for proper disease diagnosis. As the World Health Organization put it, “diagnostic imaging is a prerequisite for the correct and successful treatment of at least a quarter of all patients worldwide.”

The problem? Two-thirds of the world’s population lacks access to basic radiology services, whether in the form of X-rays, ultrasounds, CAt scans, magnetic resonance or other procedures — what describes as the “global radiology gap that now poses a threat to public health.”

“With technological advances in the last two decades, radiology is expanding rapidly worldwide while the number of radiologists has not increased at the same rate,” said Amr Abodraiaa, CEO and co-founder of Rology, a startup of the AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab), Egypt’s first university-based accelerator. Abodraiaa became aware of the problem several years ago when he worked on a hospital management system with a startup company in Egypt. “it always concerned me how there was a constant delay in issuing patient reports,” he said. “Patients would sometimes have to wait for two or three weeks to receive their final diagnostic reports.”

Using artificial intelligence, Rology works to bridge this gap through an on-demand, web-based teleradiology platform that instantly and remotely matches radiology images originating from hospitals with professional radiologists in different parts of the globe. Rology can be easily accessed by radiologists worldwide and doesn’t require special hardware.

“ Rology helps hospitals provide their patients with a fast and accurate report,” said Abodraiaa. “this is crucial because a patient’s diagnosis and treatment can only start after the physician receives the radiology report.”

Rology operations follow three main steps: upload, match and report. the hospital uploads the patient’s medical images onto the system. Based on the first auto analysis, Rology then matches the scan with the optimal radiologist, depending on availability and subspecialty. Afterward, the radiologist writes the final diagnostic report and sends it back to the hospital through a quality control process.

“The health care sector in Egypt is ripe for innovations,” said Ayman Ismail
’95, ’97, Abdul Latif Jameel Chair in Entrepreneurship, associate professor at AUC’s School of Business and V-Lab founding director. “there is a huge need for expanding access, improving quality of care and reducing costs for health care services in Egypt, especially with the growing population and rising incomes. startups like Rology are using innovative technologies and business models to expand access to radiology services. At the AUC Venture Lab, we are now adding health care as a focus sector and working with entrepreneurs like Amr to introduce new innovations to this vital sector.”

Rology is already making an impact in Egypt. “We have helped hospitals and radiology centers in various Egyptian governorates to improve their operations by issuing almost 60,000 accurate and timely diagnostic reports since we started operating in October 2017,” said Abodraiaa.

Rology currently works with 54 hospitals and private radiology centers across Egypt and has recently started operating in Saudi Arabia and Kenya, with plans to expand its services to new markets in Africa and the Middle East by 2020. “We have five main countries in our expansion plan for this year, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Congo,” said Abodraiaa. “it’s just the start.”

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