Zimbabwean startup, Dr CADx, has developed an eHealth diagnostic system to help doctors analyse medical images in regions that have a shortage of radiologists.

The startup was founded in August 2016 by software developer, Gift Gana, and diagnostic radiographer, Tatenda Madzorera, as a solution to the scarcity of radiologists in Zimbabwe. In the country there is only one radiologist for every 940,000 people, a reality that many other developing countries face.

The new eHealth system is based on image recognition technology that Gana originally developed in his firm, Avelgood App, to identify bird species.

The updated technology uses deep neural networks that can interpret medical images with an accuracy that, according to the cofounders, is comparable to or even exceeds that of radiologists, if it is supplied with the sufficient training data.

“The process of training Dr CADx involves supplying it with a large set of medical images that have been classified by expert radiologists. The system analyses the images and automatically learns the features in the images that are characteristic of each particular disease,” Gana told Disrupt Africa.

“After training, Dr CADx can then be given a new image that it will analyse and be able to tell with confidence whether or not it shows signs of any of the diseases it has been trained for,” continued Gana.

According to Gana, when a digital image is viewed on a computer or tablet, the medical professional can then open Dr CADx on the same device and select the type of analysis that they want to make. They then upload the image to Dr CADx servers in the cloud and after a few seconds they will get the diagnosis results.

“In September 2016 our prototype achieved an accuracy of 82% in distinguishing between chest X-rays of healthy people from X-rays of patients with TB and those with lung cancer,” said Gana.

They hope to raise further funding to develop their solution after being named the winner of the local round of the Seedstars World Competition. They will proceed to the global final in Switzerland in April 2017 to pitch for up to US$1 million in funding.

Dr CADx is also in talks with radiologists and the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe to form partnerships.

“These will eventually be also our testing partners when we reach the trials phase, and eventually be our first customers. We plan to extend those partnerships in the coming year to a South Africa and Europe,” said Gana.

The startup’s initial focus is on lung diseases, head injuries and breast cancer and they plan to start the trials phase in the second half of 2017 and then launch at the end of 2018.

“Our revenue model will be based on delivering as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and billing hospitals and medical imaging centres per scan. Our projected pricing is US$1 per scan,” concluded Gana.

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