Rare Disease Day: Discover Symptoma, the search engine for doctors
1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life. Despite this, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases, and many go undiagnosed. It is not surprising that misdiagnoses are ranging from 10 to 40%. But in medicine, errors cost lives. How do doctors can get better and faster information about which symptoms mean new diseases? This is where “Symptoma” comes in - an intelligent database for doctors - and at the same time, one of the most promising Salzburg startups with potential for the world market.
The mission of the EIC-funded company “Symptoma” is to save 1.5 million lives globally each year by delivering the right diagnosis with the right resource. Symptoma.com is a free search engine for diseases, where users can enter symptoms and receive a list of matching causes – sorted by probability.
Jama Nateqi, a medical doctor, founded Symptoma while he was studying at the PMU together with the Nano technician Thomas Lutz. The team developed innovative algorithms with “artificial intelligence” (AI) over several years.
“Symptoma has closed the gap between symptoms and diagnosis”, explained Dr Jama Nateqi to the Austrian Journal Startup Salzburg. “We are solving a major problem that creates enormous follow-up costs”, he added.
More than 20.000 cognitively diseases overwhelm doctors. Only 3% are satisfied with existing research tools. But Symptoma’s diagnostic accuracy has outdone all competitors’ raising the bar for this field as the first and only viable solution.
The company wants to improve diagnostic quality while reducing the cost and time spent. In a first step, the program automatically searches the scientific publications available on the web. In a second round, all new clinical pictures will be fine-tuned. And, depending on the disease, up to 60 experts will do a validation.
“The Google of medicine”
Symptoma is already one of the largest medical databases in the world, according to Nateqi. Numerous doctors use the database in the subscription system, which is now to be rolled out successively for the global market, including an app for the smartphone.
“We have the potential to become the Google of medicine”, said Jama Nateqi that aims to scale his company worldwide.
The Salzburg company has currently 14 employees and 40 freelancers. Symptoma received Phase 2 grant from the European Innovation Council in 2018. The project is pushing this search engine to the next level by (deep) learning from search behaviour, asking questions (cognitive intelligence), and overcoming language barriers.
Every year, on the last day of February, Rare Disease Day takes place. The main objective of this day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.