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Mobile app helps medical professionals with Diagnosis

Agile Diagnosis takes top honors at 15th annual NVC business competition.

When Scott Freedman came to Chicago Booth as a student in the Full-Time MBA Program two years ago, he set out to create a start-up medical company using his background as the designer of orthopedic medical devices.

On May 26, his vision became reality after Agile Diagnosis, the company Freedman created with four other Booth students, won the 15th annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, sponsored by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.

“This is just a wonderful culmination of my two years in business school,” Freedman said after the announcement at Harper Center. “I came here wanting to do exactly this. It’s such a dream come true. It’s two years of really hard work coming together.”

Agile Diagnosis is building a mobile application that will walk medical students and professionals through a step-by-step path from symptom to diagnosis using best practices and evidence from thousands of journal articles.

According to Freedman, the group’s success stems from its complementary skill set.

“I know health care, and Borna knows tech,” he said.

Freedman had a medical products background, while partner Jon Lee offers the group a unique vantage point as both a medical student and MBA candidate. Borna Safabakhsh, a second-year student who worked for IBM lends technical savvy. The team’s other members are second-year student Josh Goldman and first-year student Anu Jayaraman, who add finance and service backgrounds. Goldman holds CFA designation, and Jayaraman previously worked as a health care consultant, specializing in sales and marketing.

“We rely on each other, we trust each other, and we have fun together,” said Freedman.

For his part, Lee said the company is setting out to become the go-to application for doctors seeking quick and easy access to evidence-based recommendations.

“This is arguably the most difficult thing to do in medicine, knowing which questions to ask, exam findings to look for [and] tests to order, as well as at what point,” Lee said. “What we plan to do is to give all that knowledge in an application in the hands of a doctor at the point of care.”

Agile Diagnosis provides research from the book Symptom to Diagnosis, which was written by three doctors at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

“The medical world has been slow to turn its ideas, research, and content into software applications,” said Lee. “So, we are highly involved in actually building the application itself.

“We are using their content, but that’s really just half of it,” Lee added. “The rest is actually building a product that makes the content intuitive and useful and getting it out there in the hands of potential customers. There are two ways we are going to become the standard and that’s not only to have the most credible product, but also the most useful product.”

Agile Diagnosis will be given $25,000 to help develop the application.
Sibl.us, which provides digital course packs and offers reading recommendations and metrics on student preparation to professors, took home the second prize and $18,000.

Pretty Quick tied for third and received $10,000. Pretty Quick is a web-based community that directly links beauty service consumers with a robust, curated network of salons and spas.

Swingbyte tied for third and received $10,000. Swingbyte is a mobile golf swing analyzer and visualizer. The patent-pending device captures the trajectory of a golf club and relays it to a smart phone and the web for instantaneous and subsequent analysis.

This year’s other finalists include Line I Jump, a mobile application that allows customers to pay restaurant and bar tabs using their smart phones; mHealth Solutions, which leverages mobile devices to improve chronic disease management and reduce health care costs; NewDog Technology, whose FoodScout mobile application helps consumers to quickly find restaurants, saving them time and money; Owl Invest, an online platform designed to help the average young professional to adopt better financial habits and invest wisely; playence, a web-based multimedia management suite that provides corporations efficient annotation and access to multimedia assets; and Real-Time Analytics, a data acquisition and analytics company specializing in consumer insights in the alcohol industry. These teams each received $2,000 in seed funding.

Since its launch in 1996, the NVC has awarded $750,000 and has helped launch more than 65 companies, which have gone on to raise more than $145 million in funding and created nearly 1,000 jobs.

This is the first year the competition included a people’s choice category. Videos produced by the finalists were posted on YouTube and voted on by other students.

Sibl.us won the category and took home $1,000. Swingbyte took second; Line Jump took third.

The people’s choice award was announced by second-year student Ashish Rangnekar, cofounder of last year’s winner, BenchPrep (formerly known as Watermelon Express). Rangnekar offered advice for all the finalists: “You have built momentum and validation. I would encourage you to keep the momentum going and build upon it. Don’t stop. Keep pushing.”

—Patrick Ferrell