Insights from the Winners of HackATL 2019: DiagnoSys

Around 80 million CT scans are taken in the United States every year, with a 3 to 5 percent margin of error. That’s around 9,000 incorrect diagnoses today. This problem is caused due to the broken line of communication between the radiologists, the doctors, and the patients. The startup DiagnoSys, the winning pitch of HackATL 2019, tackles this specific set of problems aimed towards radiologists through an AI-powered cloud-based diagnostic imaging platform that automates workflow, predicts medical conditions using risk classification, and visualizes scan in augmented reality.

Here’s how the process is broken down: the radiologist will upload a CT scan into the cloud, which will be run through a Python script that will render a 3-D image into a risk-classification, machine-learning model that will identify potential diagnoses through the scan. This 3-D image will then be uploaded into an augmented reality environment, where the doctor and the radiologist can communicate to each other about their individual diagnoses.

So how did the team behind DiagnoSys come up with such an innovative and amazing process within just 48 hours? We interviewed the brains behind the startup, Sai Aguru and Alex Proschek about their ideation process and how they approached the challenge of building a business in 48 hours.

How did you come up with your pitch? Please walk us through your ideation process.

Sai: When we had registered for HackATL and we heard about the incoming theme for this hackathon, Social Progress, we realized that healthcare was an industry that really stuck out to me. So I reached out to close friends and family and identified the pain points in the healthcare systems industry, areas that we can definitely improve on. One of the areas that we came across was radiology; we saw it as an area that could experience automation, and there were so many things that could be improved.

Alex: We definitely did not have our pitch down from the beginning, we had a lot of criticism from Design Bloc*, who shot some of our ideas completely down. I have to admit, we were a little discouraged from that at first, but we definitely bounced back and kept grinding out ideas and they definitely helped focus our idea and pinpointed the important parts.

How did you initially apply to HackATL? How did you come across the event?

Alex: My girlfriend actually goes to Emory, and she suggested we try it out since we have participated in several hackathons before.

Sai: Since HackATL was specifically a business facing hackathon, it offered a different experience from the other hackathons we have attended, which are primarily CS-oriented. We thought we would give it a shot.

What made HackATL stand out from the other hackathons you have been to, other than the fact that it is a business hackathon?

Sai: So there’s a couple of things. For example, the Major League Hackathon is a franchised hackathon, so there is typically a formula where everyone comes in, there are repeat contestants who know exactly what they want to do and what they need to succeed, which puts newcomers at a disadvantage. HackATL, on the other hand, is more of a case that you build with your idea and you’re not required to have a functioning product: it’s more about the idea and how you portray it while other hackathons look into the details of your tech, if it works, how it works, and then what is it solving. But here, I really liked how it encouraged for a real world solution, rather than a tech savvy pitch.

Alex: Compared to MLH, I definitely saw more diversity in the people who attended the hackathon. In other hackathons, it’s mostly computer science majors all across the board and there’s not much business, design, or engineering people. But here the minority was actually computer science and you saw a lot of business people, engineers, and designers — people who don’t usually interact with hackathons.

Do you have any advice for future participants of HackATL?

Alex: What we experienced was getting our ideas shut down more than once. It was discouraging at first, but looking at it from a different perspective, it definitely represents real life a lot more. You need to be mature enough to take the advice, grind it out and look at the problem from another person’s perspective. Look at what they suggest and implement their suggestions where things could be more refined. Basically, I would say accept criticism from other people and encourage other people to criticize you and not sugarcoat anything; go up to people and tell them to be brutally honest about what they think about your idea and take notes. Don’t get discouraged and get back to the drawing board and grind it out. Embrace that uncomfortable feeling that criticism gives you.

Sai: What I can add is the whole concept of “ keep it simple-stupid.” You know, something that we really struggled with was that our idea was too elaborate and it was really difficult to break it down into layman’s terms. So I think there’s a concept called “Explain it like I’m five” — that’s a habit you should adopt when you’re trying to convey an idea or a pitch to someone. If you can explain it to a five-year old, then you’re doing it right. Keep it simple so that everyone can understand it, so that you can receive the best kind of feedback.

What do you think contributed to your success in this competition?

Sai: We thought about it, and there was only one answer: DesignBloc.

Alex: Honestly, they were a very big influence on our pitch. In other hackathons, I’ve never seen people like from DesignBloc, it’s a very unique group of people I’ve interacted with. I’m not really a business person at all, I don’t know how to design or anything since I’m more of an engineer, but it was extremely useful having their perspective on how to design a product and what parameters to look at when evaluating a good idea or pitch. It’s been a very interesting experience with them.

Sai: In addition, it comes back to keeping it simple. In every conversation with DesignBloc, they would throw the same question back at us: what is your problem solving? What are you solving? Even if you have a solution and you’re married to the idea, take a step back and again, keep it simple, what is the need and what direction is your idea going to? To an extent, that is a very brute force way of tackling an idea. Even then, we didn’t completely take all their advice and criticism to heart, and we still stuck with some of our original ideas. That’s another piece of advice: stick to your gut feeling if you think this is a good idea, thats what will lead you to where you need to go.

Editor’s note: Design Bloc is a workshop hosted by HackATL that participants attended during the 48-hour ideation process. In this workshop, mentors reviewed participants’ pitches and gave business and technical advice that helped further develop these ideas.

Written by: Emily Jang | IQ Magazine Director

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Emory Entrepreneurship & Venture Management’s online magazine featuring entrepreneurial news from students, professors, and exec!

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Emory Entrepreneurship & Venture Management’s online magazine featuring entrepreneurial news from students, professors, and exec!

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