How I Met Gali: Why Every Patient Needs a Friend

Gali Health
Jan 30, 2019 · 4 min read
Ilya Kupershmidt

Hello, my name is Ilya and as the founder and CEO of Gali Health, I’d like to tell you a bit about why I came up with Gali. A little background on me: my professional life has been all about helping research scientists and doctors make sense of massive amounts of complex medical data. At NextBio, the company I co-founded and sold to the DNA sequencing pioneer Illumina, we created a way for the biomedical community to connect and mine genetic and clinical data from millions of patients worldwide. It allowed clinicians and researchers to explore this giant collection of global data in real time through a simple web interface, derive important insights and sometimes even make discoveries. Before that, I was in charge of industry partnerships at a genomic software startup that helped scientists understand data coming out of the Human Genome Project. I guess you can call me a big biotech and genome nerd.

Even though I’ve worked on innovative information technologies in the healthcare industry my whole life, for everything I’ve learned and done professionally, I kept encountering the same issue after-hours: I couldn’t help those closest to me answer basic medical questions, understand different approaches to treatment or simply make better everyday healthcare decisions. I didn’t know what all the options were or which to choose in any given situation, and I couldn’t schedule doctor appointments fast enough. I felt overwhelmed.

Taking care of my loved ones, I was frustrated having to sort through a myriad of online resources, forums and patient groups on social media, digging for information that is relevant and trustworthy enough to base important decisions on. From the times of Hippocrates we’ve been taught to rely solely on doctors, who will certainly carry on as our essential partners and guides. But knowing a good deal about the information and technology available today made me wonder: are we not well-equipped to play a central role in our own health and well-being?

Shouldn’t everyone have easy, immediate access to valid and relevant insights, so we can work as informed partners with our doctors? Is there a better way for us to lead healthier lives, learn from the medical community and from other people’s health journeys, and never feel powerless or alone?

The timing surely seems right: with the evolution of content sharing platforms, mobile tech and AI-powered assistants like Alexa, we are well-positioned to take the next step in proactively managing our health. In addition, enormous advances in DNA sequencing technologies create opportunities for entirely new levels of personalization we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago: we are starting to use our genomes to make better lifestyle decisions, from the types of medicines we take to the foods we choose for dinner.

The art and science that is medicine is fundamentally based on experience: the more cases a doctor examines, the more knowledgeable he or she becomes. So, what if one person could learn everything there is to know about a condition, from both doctors and patients all over the world? What if that person could then analyze this massive heap of data and come up with the most relevant and reliable information for every patient individually? And what if that someone deeply cared about you? If any one person can’t pull it off, can an artificially intelligent mind, with its capacity to learn, evolve and adjust?

That’s how the idea behind Gali was born: a proactive and caring friend who knows us well enough to provide relevant, medically-validated information, feedback and support whenever we need it.

But that’s just half the story: to do her job well, Gali needs to keep improving and learning. So we designed her to do that with the help of patient and medical communities. Doctors and people living with chronic conditions have a chance to contribute to the health of millions of people while mining their knowledge, experience and data. These, in turn, underpin Gali’s AI-powered, “collective” intelligence. By connecting every person to this global community and its knowledge, Gali makes sure no one is left to deal with their condition alone.

Gali was named after my grandmother, who cared for me most thoughtfully and loved me unconditionally. The team we assembled has first-hand experience living with chronic conditions and is well aware that not everyone has a medically knowledgeable, forward-thinking and dedicated friend at their side. But we firmly believe that everybody deserves one.

To learn more about Gali, please visit galihealth.com

Gali Health

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Advancing precision medicine through the Gali digital health platform and DNA sequencing tech by creating personalized solutions for chronic disease communities

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