How this NYC startup is using the cloud to help doctors treat patients

Picofemto, a New York startup that aims to transform healthcare through analytics, helps doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals digest the immense amount of information about their patients that is now swirling around in the cloud.

Written by Emerson Dameron
Published on May. 31, 2016
How this NYC startup is using the cloud to help doctors treat patients

In 2012, Picofemto founder and CEO Srikant Krishna, a veteran of Wall Street who had witnessed the rise of algorithms and their effect on everything from retail pricing to genomics, began to rethink his career.  

“I was considering a couple of opportunities back on Wall Street, when something came across my plate—it was the ACA," he said. "Some people call it the Obamacare act. That was the talk of the town. I started looking into healthcare costs and spending, and my jaw just dropped.”

Krishna has always had his eye on the intersection of technology and healthcare. While a student at Johns Hopkins in the '90s, he literally slept in the computer lab after he took a job there that gave him 24-hour unfettered access. Watching the web go mainstream at the same time the human genome was being sequenced made him wonder why the healthcare field was keeping more Joneses.  

"I started to look at some of the technology people were using," he said, "and I realized some of the stuff that physicians were using was so far behind." 

Channeling his experience in computer-driven trading, he co-founded Picofemto, a New York startup that aims to transform healthcare through analytics.

Picofemto helps doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals digest the immense amount of information about their patients that is now swirling around in the cloud. Its key offering, Cliniscan EEG Decision Support, is a suite of products that helps analyze raw medical data at the point of diagnosis, helping save time, cut costs, improve consistency, and aid in research. The company is also at work creating similar products for MRI, PET, CT, and more.

"[Cloud computing] is [like] having a million computers in your backpack," he said. "Even in Star Trek, there’s no such thing as a cloud-connected mobile device. They had no idea that they could have this omniscient, omnipresent entity called the cloud.”

Algorithms can help save lives  

Krishna (pictured) believes the cloud and mobile technology are the most pivotal recent developments in computing, but there is a downside to having infinite data at your fingertips. 

"This level of information is approaching the perceptual and workload limits of your practicing radiologist," he said. "If there’s something there, they’re responsible for it. If there’s a tumor and it’s a little blotchy spot somewhere, you know what? They’re responsible for it."

When healthcare professionals become overwhelmed with information, they risk malpractice or worse. Therein lies the power of algorithms, which draw on an entire body of knowledge to form conclusions that won't differ from person to person. 

"One of the major problems in healthcare, regardless of the speciality, is consistency," Krishna said, a concern that arose when he talked with the FDA. "If you ask four different physicians what a seizure is, you’re going to get four different answers. There’s a lot of subjectivity."

Through Picofemto, cloud computing and computer-aided diagnosis can empower a physician without access to Harvard or Mayo Clinic technology.

The company is currently seeking more medical and academic partnerships, since the more knowledge it can access, the more powerful it will become. In July 2015, it pulled down a $2.2M investment round.

As the population ages and more chronic diseases emerge, Krishna's relentless enthusiasm is propelled forward by the urgency of his work.

"Any sort of technology that can reduce the burden, save lives, and make things more efficient is going to be a win-win-win for everyone," he said. "For physicians, because they can do more work. Less false positives. Less false negatives. Much greater consistency. For hospitals, they save a lot of costs of malpractice, and they can handle more patients, as well. The patients, because they are now getting technology that they can avail. For governments, for policy-makers, because the amount of money they have to come up with to pay for a lot of this is greatly reduced.”

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