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Transforming Oncology Care: A Deep Dive into Hurone AI's Innovative Platform

By Henry Duah

Hurone AI, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, was founded with a vision to revolutionize oncology care through artificial intelligence (AI), Hurone AI stands at the forefront of democratizing precision cancer care, transcending geographical barriers, and ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare services.

In this illuminating Q&A session, we delve into the intricacies of their groundbreaking platform designed to empower oncologists and streamline patient management processes. Dr. Kingsley I. Ndoh, provides a comprehensive overview of Hurone AI’s innovative approach, shedding light on key features, technological nuances, and strategic partnerships driving their mission forward. 

From the seamless integration of web-based and patient-facing USSD text message systems to utilizing AI-driven analytics dashboards and personalized patient prompts, Hurone AI’s platform exemplifies a fusion of cutting-edge technology and compassionate care delivery. Moreover, the founder offers valuable insights into the platform’s role in fostering diversity in clinical trials, addressing cultural nuances in data collection, and ensuring compliance with stringent privacy laws.

Hurone AI’s commitment to leveraging AI for the betterment of oncology care extends beyond mere innovation—it embodies a profound dedication to bridging healthcare disparities, empowering clinicians, and enhancing patient outcomes on a global scale. 

Can you provide more details about how Gukiza, your software solution, explicitly supports clinical oncology and research?

Our system is a two-way-facing system. We have a web-based app where authorized clinicians can sign in. Then we have a patient-facing side which isn’t like a traditional app because we’re trying to ensure that we’re inclusive as much as possible. The patient-facing side includes a USSD text message system,  so patients who don’t have smartphones can access our service. We also have an API for WhatsApp. When patients have an established diagnosis of cancer, they get registered on the platform. 

How does the design of your innovation enhance its functionality and user experience?

Our system has an analytics dashboard where physicians can see how their patients are progressing, they can generate messages automatically, and they can call directly from our software. All these communication features are automated; they just need to be reviewed and sent to the patient so the patient can take action. Patients take action on our system, which can also auto-detect emergencies. We just have the final human reviews to ensure everything is aligned. 

Our system ensures that quality care can be as seamless as possible and patients can have remote care. Patients can manage their side effects, be more compliant, save money by avoiding travel to cancer centers, and streamline workflows for oncologists who are very few. There’s just one (1) oncologist to 3,000 cancer patients in Africa. We’re trying to empower and make the fewer oncologists available superhumans.

How does Gukiza streamline patient-oncologist communications, and what AI support does it offer to care providers?

When our AI system says do this or do that, it’s getting that information from regional treatment protocols.  The guidelines, treatment plans, or messages are tailored to the regions. Secondly, patients can also choose the language in which they want to receive information, and they get those prompts in their preferred languages. 

As I mentioned earlier, we have an intuitive analytics dashboard that gives clinicians insight into how their patients are doing. Then, just with the click of a button, a message personalized to the patient can be generated, which a clinician can review and send to that patient. As we expand, we will use AI in many other ways, like predicting who is likely to respond better to a certain treatment and fine-tuning treatment protocols. 

Can you provide examples of how your software has contributed to ensuring diversity in clinical trials and addressing cultural nuances in data collection?

The goal is to leverage our platform for phase three and four clinical trials in Africa and Latin America because that would help close the diversity gap in oncology research. Many clinical trials happen in North America, and are based primarily on Caucasian data. Conducting clinical trials, ready reports, or data evaluations and using our software to attract those trials in those places would help diversify the participant pool. That’s the goal. So far, we’ve done a comprehensive clinical trial readiness report at Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre, the largest Kidney Center in West Africa. So, we’re collaborating with the right partners to conduct clinical trials and leverage our software to help accelerate R&D.

Does Hurone AI deliver other products or solutions besides Gukiza and Clinical Trial Software?

These are primary products. We do have a product roadmap, and part of that roadmap is to include other diseases. Once we’ve established oncology, we plan to include diabetes and other non-communicable diseases in the future.

How have the innovative community and stakeholders responded to your innovation, and how do you engage with your user base?

The response to our innovation has been excellent. We first launched in Rwanda, where we did a pilot, and the feedback from patients and the oncologists was great. We are setting up pilots in several places, like Kenya, Nigeria, and Brazil. Our AI innovation has gotten traction around the world. The White House mentioned us as an example of a technology that will increase access to cancer care in Africa. AWS VP for Data and Machine Learning, Swami Sivasubramanian highlighted our company in his keynote speech at AWS re:Invent 2023. We were published in the American Society of Clinical Oncology. We’ve had several local and international publications in these countries discussing our platform’s promise. So, I’ll say we’ve continued gaining traction in tech and healthcare. I think that’s the most important thing, to really get our platform in people’s hands. 

What technologies or methodologies ensure data privacy and compliance with privacy laws?

Our strategy is to work with regulatory authorities and comply with local laws. Our platform is on AWS, using the highest levels of health data security on AWS. We work very closely with our partners to ensure that we comply with local regulatory laws like data sovereignty, which is becoming very popular in African settings, not just in African cities but globally. Yeah. We have set our system to comply with HIPAA laws in the US, which goes above and beyond when complying with local regulatory authorities on data storage, sharing and ownership.

With the global oncology software market projected to grow, how does Hurone AI plan to stay ahead of industry trends?

As we continue to look at the ecosystem to see how it’s evolving, we see that the markets in Africa and Latin America are very different. Here in the US, there will be things like VR, AR, virtual doctors, and a lot of innovation. We’re looking at opportunities that could be implemented in Africa, and we don’t want to have just something so sleek that only a few people can use it to serve any purpose. So we’re building for the continent, and we’re building for those underrepresented regions. We’ll continue to keep an eye on and see how the technology is evolving. And we’ll continue to grow with it and stay ahead of the curve.

Are there any plans for collaboration with other organizations or stakeholders to further advance cancer care accessibility? 

We’ve partnered with the Government of Kenya, Kisumu, and are collaborating with major cancer centers in Brazil. We’re building partnerships with pharma companies. We’ve also partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) through their Health Equity Initiative. 

Are there any initiatives in place to upskill or reskill your workforce to adapt to technological advancements, particularly in AI and data science?

We’re currently working with some of the best experts in the field who have extensive experience from institutions like Microsoft, former IBM Watson Health, MIT, Fred Hutch, City of Hope, and more. Our team is committed to growth because we are collectively driven by our personal and lived experiences to make a positive impact on the world. So upskilling and reskilling is a way of life for us as a team and as individuals.

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