Turning Tragedy into Data Driven Medical Discovery
Pentavere is a globally recognized AI healthcare technology company that is working with the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, most prestigious hospitals, and well-respected researchers to curate data and scale the generation of real-world evidence and lifesaving insights. It all started in response to a simple question sparked by a personal tragedy for Pentavere’s Co-founder Steven Aviv.
The question that baffled Steven was: “Why is it that financial markets can use AI to analyze data and make billions of dollars, but healthcare systems can’t access the data needed to save lives?” He came to this stark realization amid his 20-year career as a technology architect where Steven applied AI to help the world’s largest financial institution’s model to measure and manage financial risk in real-time in the pursuit of profit.
While Steven was working in the financial industry, his mother fractured her ankle and went to a hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, the medical team overlooked critical details regarding his mother’s health that were buried in a clinical note. Due to this oversight, his mother received an inadequate dosage of heparin and passed away from brain aneurysm caused by a blood clot.
These types of incidents occur daily. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, death resulting from avoidable medical errors is the third leading cause of death in North America. Steven was astonished that while the financial industry makes routine use of sophisticated data to reap profits, the health sector cannot efficiently and cost-effectively access crucial information required to save lives.
Unveiling Critical Healthcare Data to Save Lives
Steven Aviv teamed up with his friend Aaron Leibtag and began contacting hospitals to research the problem. Many of the leading hospitals they contacted acknowledged the issue and said they would be interested in potential solutions to this data dilemma. Steven and Aaron had naively assumed that there must already be numerous ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions to serve the health sector, but after much research discovered that no such silver bullet existed.
The reality is that the health system has billions of patient records- a treasure trove of information. But, it is not easy to comb through these documents to gather specific clinical data points. Clinicians and researchers manually sift through thousands of records, and hundreds of thousands of pages of text to uncover relevant information to treat patients effectively. This laborious approach creates a barrier to medical discovery since it is incredibly expensive and time-consuming is neither scalable nor reproducable.
Intrigued by the serious gap in the healthcare system, Steven and Aaron left their lucrative jobs in finance to establish Pentavere. Their objective was to create an AI application that could curate clinical information into a usable and analyzable structure without incurring the time, costs and limitations of existing manual processes.
Drawing funding from the company’s own resources, Pentavere’s small team designed and built a breakthrough proprietary AI engine that generates real-world insights from electronic clinical documentation. The Pentavere team then embedded themselves within a leading hospital for two years to validate and publish the results of their AI prototype. Pentavere soon caught the attention of seasoned medical professionals who shared the company’s mission. Among them was Dr. Christopher Pettengell, a successful Oxford-educated vascular surgeon and Rhode Scholar who stumbled upon Pentavere’s work while searching online to solve his own challenges with manual chart abstraction and the generation of meaningful data. Impressed by Pentavere’s compelling results, Dr. Pettengell left his clinical practice and moved his family from London to Toronto to become Pentavere’s Chief Medical Officer.
Diverse Teams Deliver Impactful AI Solutions
Looking back upon Pentavere’s achievements to date, Steven and Aaron credit the company’s rapid trajectory to having engaged a diverse team of people to build the algorithms. To source this talent, they chose to establish Pentavere in Toronto, Canada, where luminaries such as Geoffrey Hinton, ‘the godfather of deep learning,’ helped pioneer the science behind AI.
While Pentavere assesses applicants to find unique experience and skills, the company places special emphasis on finding individuals who have deep passion for improving patient outcomes. For example, one of the company’s computational linguists had no medical background, but she spent years analyzing the linguistic structure of the testimonials of women who survived genocide. She is determined that her work make an impact on improving society and the lives of individuals, and her background proved invaluable in helping the team understand the impact of Covid-19 on patients who suffer from major depression and suicidal ideation.
Today, Pentavere’s team is noticeably diverse. Around 60% of the company’s AI engineers are women, which contradicts the industry norms in which 90% of engineering teams are all male. The entire Pentavere team has over 50% of female employees. The strategy of hiring top talents and the company’s determination to impact healthcare has positioned Pentavere to engage in AI projects globally and across the entire pharmaceutical value chain.
Data Insights Decode Medical Mysteries
Pentavere’s breakthrough application, ‘the proprietary AI engine DARWEN™’ began earning accolades from global healthcare and life science organizations that could begin accessing high-quality data and powerful insights embedded in their medical records.
Nigel Hughes, Scientific Director, Observational Health Data Analytics/Epidemiology at Johnson & Johnson praised Pentavere’s combined achievements and said, “In a world drowning in data but thirsting for knowledge, Pentavere has cast a light on ways to alleviate this challenge.”
Dr Geoffrey Liu, Medical Oncologist and Senior Scientist at the renowned Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, explained: “I have spent over two decades leading national and international research initiatives to identify the right treatments for the right patient at the right time. The data required to address these efforts have always been limited. Now, by working with Pentavere, we have generated real-world data at an incredible scale, speed and accuracy. I get the data I need to improve patient care.”
Pentavere is now involved in projects with some of the largest global pharmaceutical companies, prestigious hospitals, and top researchers to generate data insights into some of today’s most perplexing diseases like cancer.
The Future: Early Days for AI in Healthcare
The future appears to be bright in terms of AI’s capacity to enable medical innovation, and the Covid-19 pandemic has created an urgency to accelerate adoption. Even though AI is now on everyone’s minds, it is still early days for the applications of AI in healthcare as compared to other industries. Pentavere is working with customers globally on around one hundred other known applications, where AI can be implemented readily. The customers estimate that there are thousands of other AI applications that are yet to be identified.
Reflecting on Pentavere’s accomplishments, Steven and Aaron admit that they are amazed by the company’s growth. They are grateful for the incredible clients they have built relationships with and are excited about the work they are doing across so many clinical areas ranging from cancer to mental health and heart failure. But no matter how far they have come, the team remains focused on their deep-rooted mission to save lives.