With an array of intelligent features up and running worldwide, Avey points to a future of meticulously tailored health care as its mission.
“It started with the desire to fulfil my son’s wish,” Dr. Mohammed Hammoud started in an interview with Doha News.
Dr. Mohammed Hammoud is a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q). He holds a PhD and MS in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh – and is the Founder and CEO of Avey, a healthcare app which includes an AI self-diagnosis algorithm, that has taken Qatar by storm.
Dr. Hammoud recalls facing the daunting task of helping his son, who was diagnosed with a chronic condition, find the right medical care.
“My son drew a cartoon superhero, hoping it could cure all diseases in the world,” he said. “I felt his frustration deeply, and since then, I was determined to do what I could about it.”
These frustrations influenced the creation of Avey. As a father, Dr. Hammoud took it upon himself to mesh his expertise in Computer Science with this need.
In 2017, Avey was founded at the Qatar Science and Technology Park at Qatar Foundation, with a mission to empower health with a self-diagnostic system and a tailored healthcare journey.
Some of its features have since seen worldwide adoption, with the application available in 175 countries, it has had over 1.1 million downloads to date.
Last year, Avey ran a research study comparing its diagnosis accuracy with that of Ada, WebMD, K Health, Buoy, and Babylon. Not only was Avey’s AI Medical Diagnostic Algorithm the most accurate solution from the bunch, it’s accuracy was also proven to be 86%. Since then, Avey’s AI has reached an accuracy of 93%, allowing users worldwide to self-diagnose with confidence.
This innovation hasn’t gone unnoticed. In the same year, the startup was voted Best Company and Public Favorite at the first-ever InsurHack MENA 2022, organized by Qatar Insurance Group together with Deloitte, Google Cloud, and QIC Digital Venture Partner (QIC DVP) among 130 entrants from 33 countries. Then, in October of the same year, it won the 2022 Global Tech Innovator Qatar Competition, organized by KPMG, Microsoft, and QDB.
Plenty to offer
Avey has four key features in its application: Check, Connect, Cure and Commune.
Through its Check feature, users conduct self-diagnosis sessions with Avey’s AI Medical Diagnostic Algorithm, that consists of interactive questions. Afterwards, Avey provides the users with high precision diagnoses and recommendations on the appropriate next steps.
Being available worldwide, Avey can diagnose millions at the same time.
Its Connect feature allows users to book doctor’s appointments or conduct virtual consultations. There are 164 services offered and Avey boasts connections with 1.7 thousand doctors and 29 hospitals, and other health facilities. This includes Al Fardan Medical with Northwestern Medicine, Al Emadi among others.
In recent months, the app is planning to expand its Virtual Connect feature and offer the GCC region access to international medical specialists.
Meanwhile, its Cure function allows users to obtain prescriptions for their ailments. From the comfort of their house and without having to physically see doctors, users can purchase and get delivery of their prescriptions.
Lastly, its Commune function allows users to connect with a larger community of individuals with similar struggles. It is designed primarily to function as a space where users all over the world can unwind, ask questions, engage in discussions, and offer their support.
“Since its establishment in 2017, Avey’s consistent ascent hasn’t been without major challenges,” Dr Hammoud told Doha News.
“Many people are still hesitant to adopt new technology into their everyday lives. But Avey’s accuracy rate speaks for itself as more and more people download the mobile app and companies are open to partnerships.”
But this level of success has come with challenges, too.
“[It is difficult] to penetrate a market that is keen to adopt new technologies but has not yet accepted them. In more competitive markets, speed is everything,” said Dr Hammoud.
“The Qatari business landscape is different, so emphasising the need to adopt new technologies has been challenging.”
With a team of 33 employees, Avey has made it its mission to expand beyond Qatar. With support from angel investors locally and abroad, the QSTP based company has enjoyed solid support in pre-seed and seed financing rounds.
“Though the startup ecosystem in Qatar is robust for pre-seed and seed rounds, we still have a long way to go to support higher rounds of the start-up process,” said Dr Hammoud.
“The lack of a strong Venture Capital firm is one of the challenges we have faced in the last 6 years of being in the business,” he added.
The company acquired $1.45 million during the pre-Seed round and $3.26 million in the seed round. As it approaches the closing of Series A, the company is looking to venture capital firms in the US and Europe, many of whom Avey says are highly interested in the enterprise.
There are more causes for optimism, too. Avey is expecting more partner hospitals, organisations, downloads and services as the local ecosystem moves readily embraces digitalisation and AI.