26 April 2022 Agora Care – Patient-Driven management of Radiological Data We interviewed Professor Osman Ratib, Co-Founder and CEO of Agora Care. Agora Care is one of the award winners of one of our programmes. The rapid growth in medical imaging techniques and their impact on almost any patient management and follow up pathways have resulted in a major increase in data transfers between radiology service providers and the referring physicians and care provider institutions. Furthermore, in compliance with legal regulations, patients are eligible to have access to all their medical data, including images of radiological procedures. This shift in paradigm requires significant changes in the management and communication of imaging data that were traditionally limited to the centres of radiological services, with an occasional transfer to the referring physician or to a care facility. This is where Agora Care comes in with its ground-breaking solution. Personal Background Professor Osman Ratib is the Co-Founder and CEO of Agora Care. He is a dual-board-certified physician in Cardiology and Nuclear Medicine, and holds a master’s degree and a PhD in Biomedical Physics in Digital Imaging. In 1998, Professor Ratib was appointed as a Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). In 2005, he went to Geneva to take the position of Head of Nuclear Medicine division. Then, in 2006, he was appointed as a Chair of the Department of Medical Imaging and Information Sciences. He has pioneered several innovative projects, including the advanced cardiovascular PET-CT program and the first whole-body PET-MRI unit in Europe. He is also a founding member and the President of the OsiriX foundation, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of Open-Source software in medicine. What Keeps Professor Ratib Awake at Night? “My passion for the development of innovative Open-Source software platforms for medical applications – that’s what keeps me awake at night,” says Professor Ratib. Having dedicated his career to medical imaging as a Head of the Department of Radiology at HUG in Geneva, and before that, for 10 years as a Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiology at UCLA in Los Angeles, Dr. Osman Ratib also invested a lot of his efforts in the development of computer platforms for the management and analysis of medical images. The developments of these software platforms had great success worldwide, with popular Open-Source software such as OsiriX, or the data sharing platform KHEOPS, now used in numerous academic and research centres in Switzerland and around the world. “When I retired from my academic position last year, I decided to devote myself entirely to a new project that has been close to my heart for several years and to launch my own start-up, Agora Care, to develop it,” shares Professor Ratib. This new platform will finally provide a unique and economical solution (free for patients, too!) to facilitate the management and communication of radiological examinations carried out in different institutions. These examinations, performed in different locations, are very often not available when needed. What Problem Does Agora Care Solve? Agora Care is an innovative solution to the lack of efficient patient management and data communication that healthcare systems are facing today. “By shifting the paradigm of data ownership to a patient-centric solution, we offer not only a radically different approach to the relationship between care providers and patients. We also offer a very powerful strategy to facilitate and accelerate research and innovations in healthcare,” explains Professor Osman Ratib. Agora Care offers a secure and cost-effective solution for long-term storage and easy access to patient’s imaging data. It provides the patient with the means to take ownership of their medical record and manage their medical pathway. It also provides a unique opportunity to encourage patients to contribute to medical research and benefit from participation in early clinical trials of new treatments and therapeutic techniques. Beginning of Entrepreneurial Journey and Current Status “The Agora Care platform is developed and designed by our a team of programmers who worked with me on several medical imaging platforms for several years. Our unfair advantage over the competition is the expertise and successful track record in developing such platforms for complex networks of users and imaging centres,” shares Professor Ratib. The current Agora Care platform is web-based (zero-footprint, web application compatible with any device or operating system). It was specifically designed for patients and non-computer-savvy users. It provides a unique viewer that presents the imaging studies in a more natural way for the patient, representing their life timeline with different episodes at different times in their life. The platform offers instantaneous access and display of large datasets that are unique in their performance. Client Success Story “While we don’t have specific stories to tell, we can report great enthusiasm by patients who FINALLY have a way to group all their images in one place and have them accessible every time they need them for their follow-up and clinical follow-up,” proudly explains Professor Ratib. This is particularly true for patients who suffer from chronic disease or those who must undergo regular follow-ups like: - Cancer patients under treatment - Patients suffering from degenerative diseases - Patients who must seek regular surgical interventions of complex diseases. Unfortunately, in his professional career, Professor Ratib can report hundreds of sad stories where patients suffered from lack of appropriate care, misdiagnosis, inappropriate surgical interventions, or delayed diagnosis of recurrence of a disease just due to the inability to retrieve prior radiological examinations when needed. Biggest Achievements “The development of our first release of a completely re-designed imaging platform in the record time of less than 9 months, as well as the ongoing clinical evaluation in several clinical settings with extremely positive returns, have by themselves been extraordinary achievements beyond our wildest expectations,” shares Professor Osman Ratib. Future Impact of Agora Care Agora Care’s new strategy for empowering patients and giving them full control of their medical data will radically change the current clinical practice. It will do that by facilitating the exchange of data between institutions while significantly reducing the cost and complexity of the technical solutions used today for transferring these data from one location to another. Has Tech Tour Assisted Agora Care in Their Journey? “Not so far, but it may in the future by giving us a bigger exposure to investors, as well as to healthcare networks worldwide,” concludes Professor Ratib.