Israeli HMO Maccabi taps AI, big data for healthcare innovation

The HMO has managed innovation through its health tech arm, big data institute, and partnerships

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The headache has been hanging around longer than usual. Aspirin only dulls the throbbing temporarily. So you check the internet. But the possible explanations range from depression, to a stroke, to a brain tumour.

Now, an interactive mobile app promises users a more precise initial diagnosis. Developed using the data from more than two decades of doctor diagnoses chronicled in the records of Maccabi Healthcare Services, an Israeli health maintenance organisation (HMO), the K app queries users about symptoms, medical history and basic personal information. Then, it suggests a possible ailment with a much higher degree of reliability than the results from an internet search.

The K app is the fruit of one of several partnerships - in this case, with New York-based startup K Health - spawned by Maccabi Healthcare Services’ eight-year old innovation centre, Maccabitech, and its big data institute, MK&M, launched in 2016.

Israel has a universal healthcare system with four HMOs financed through income taxes and monthly premiums. Maccabi is the second largest HMO by membership.

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