YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Several years ago, Gadi Shenhar’s grandmother was undergoing treatment for a mild form of Alzheimer’s disease. The drugs were working. His grandmother responded well to the therapy, and it appeared that the medication was arresting the progression of the disease.
That was until her exhausted physician made a mistake and accidentally punched in the wrong drug on a computer screen, Shenhar says. Her health declined rapidly after taking the medication.
“My grandmother turned from a relatively lucid person to not knowing where she was on the day she died,” he says.
The family tragedy inspired Shenhar to establish a company, Droxi AI, that employs artificial intelligence technology to streamline processes and systems in the health care industry.
As in the case with his grandmother, Shenhar says these improvements could make the difference between life and death.
Droxi AI, based in Haifa, Israel, is the latest company to affiliate with the Youngstown Business Incubator. Shenhar, co-founder and CEO – says he has plans to introduce this technology to the medical community throughout northeastern Ohio.
“When we founded Droxi, we thought about addressing medication error as a problem,” Shenhar recalls. “But we talked with hundreds of physicians asking them to rate different pain points in their work. Surprisingly, all of them rated 10 out of 10 the pain of the work behind the scenes.”
The company has since developed software that eliminates much of the data processing and administrative tasks that would otherwise fall on the shoulders of physicians.
“Our company helps physicians and medical staff spend more time on patients and less time on paperwork,” Shenhar says.
Droxi AI has developed software that reduces the time it takes for doctors and staff to manually process prescriptions, lab results and other data, he says.
“We thought if there could be technology that helps them reduce their time spent on these things while focusing on what matters – that could be life changing for many doctors and for patients,” he says. “We designed a software that does exactly that.”
For example, sometimes issuing a prescription requires a physician to go through records to assess drug interactions and other data, Shenhar says.
“The entire process is very manual,” he says.
Droxi AI eliminates much of this manual work by using artificial intelligence to analyze millions of past cases and then present the results as it applies to the physician’s patient.
“At the end of the day, clinicians will spend their time doing medicine and our technology will take care of the rest,” he says.
Artificial intelligence is critical to understanding context and key information – for example, a patient’s record or human resources data, Shenhar says. The technology could also complete administrative work and generate unique responses to every patient.
“We’re not in a day where AI can replace anybody,” Shenhar says. “We’re aiming to support and streamline processes. This is how we can be helpful.”
Droxi AI launched the program in Israel 18 months ago with a large cohort of physicians at one of the country’s largest health providers.
“We saw a 50% decrease in task time,” Shenhar says.
The company then sold its system for the first time in the United States in California and is rolling out its system in Montana.
“Now, we’re expanding in the U.S. Hopefully, here in the [Youngstown] region,” Shenhar says.
The YBI has helped Droxi AI connect with health care providers that would have been difficult for the company to do on its own.
“It’s a challenge to develop a business in the U.S. when you don’t know the culture, the language and a lot of things you have to wrap your head around,” Shenhar says.
Droxi employs 10 and plans to hire more as it expands. “The idea is to expand here,” he says.
Barb Ewing, incubator CEO, says the YBI first established a connection with the Israeli technology community in 2017, creating a launch pad for introducing new tech companies in the U.S. market. The effort was successful in bringing two Israeli firms to YBI.
“Things were going very well, then COVID hit,” Ewing says, and the two Israeli companies could not survive the pandemic. “We’re rebuilding. We have strong relationships in Israel,” she adds, noting local support from the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.
“It is a small country that develops a lot of technology,” Ewing says. “When they are looking to commercialize that technology, they really do have to look at larger markets such as North America.”
The introduction to Droxi comes at a time when the incubator is beginning to build its portfolio of health-care technology companies, according to Ewing. There is also increased attention in the artificial intelligence space, she says.
“We’re also starting to see a lot of interest especially at the federal level in artificial intelligence and building programs to support the effective use of AI as a tool,” Ewing says. “It’s going to be one of those things where everybody is a little afraid of it. But we always have fears when new technologies come on.”
She notes that AI should be regarded as one more tool that allows businesses to operate more efficiently. “Droxi is a great example of how the medical profession can be improved using technology.”
Pictured at top: Barb Ewing, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Gadi Shenhar, co-founder of Droxi AI.