Chronic conditions live on a scale, from manageable over time to life-threatening. Just imagine suffering from something like psoriasis, a skin disease suffered by almost 3% of the global population with no official cure, it’s so easy to get lost between doctors’ opinions and searching the web for solutions. Israeli startup StuffThatWorks aims to harness the power of crowdsourcing to get people to share their success stories, in an effort to find the most effective treatments out there. The startup was co-founded by former Waze (acquired by Google) Head of Product, Yael Elish, who was actually one of the mobility giant’s first hires; Ron Held, and Yossi Synett.

Today (Thursday), StuffThatWorks collected $9 million in Seed funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, 83North, and Ofek Ventures. The newly acquired capital will help the crowdsourcing startup hire more talent to add to its 30 Tel Aviv-based employees in an effort to accelerate growth and expansion.

The company says that data is not available regarding effective treatments for chronic conditions, and even if available, it’s really hard to find, resulting in the team from StuffThatWorks to develop the new platform - which today officially launched for the global community. Currently, the platform is strictly available in English, but the company intends on localizing it into other languages.

A view of the platform's format source: StuffThatWorks

In a conversation with Geektime, CEO Elish explains that the company utilizes ML in different stages to analyze surveys, from using NLP to read written text by users; sentiment analysis from those same texts; and utilizing Deep Learning to analyze the survey as a whole and adjusting its fit to certain patient communities who suffer from a specific disease.

Based on the number of answered surveys, StuffThatWork’s system publishes insight to a varying degree: when 100 participants with the same disease complete the survey, then a community is formed, creating a sharing of data which includes a list of effective cross-referenced treatments, symptoms, factors that cause condition to worsen, and other underlying conditions or diseases suffered by the participants.

Once a community has hundreds of participants, the system’s algorithm ranks treatments by reported effectiveness. Then when a community hits thousands of members, the system analyzes a treatment’s effectiveness on sub-groups of the community, enabling the system to determine the best treatments for each individual patient. Despite operating under the radar, the company has amassed 180,000 members with more than 100 different chronic conditions.  

“We won’t sell data, only insight”

We know the obvious connection is there, but it’s hard not to compare StuffThatWorks to Waze, they’re both based on the same crowdsourcing idea added with the company’s effort to create a bank of knowledge.  

When we try to pry from Elish what data is being collected from members, she doesn’t mention anything specific, only noting that “the data analysis is automated by us, and combined with AI to find general info regarding a treatment’s effectiveness and customized personal data. However, the platform itself is meant to fill a key roll in PRO research.”

StuffThatWorks founding team source:StuffThatWorks

Elish adds that the user’s data collected by the platform is secured according to the strictest regulations and stands up to privacy standards like GDPR. Though, when responding to our inquiry regarding selling the data (like what happened with Waze), Elish simply responds saying “we will not sell our user’s data, but only relevant data-driven insight.”