Published by Valeri Petrov, Partner at Eleven.
Healthcare has the reputation of being a very conservative field, which despite its legacy is currently becoming more and more open to new technologies and innovation. This is slowly but steadily leading to a technological revolution similar to what happened in fintech a couple of years ago. For us, this is a great opportunity to support the boldest aspiring founders who are challenging the traditional methods of how we sustain wellness, treat illness and take care of our health. This is why Healthcare is among our top priority verticals.
One subdomain which needs a lot of attention and novelty is Autism Spectrum Conditions. So far, very little is being done in medicine and in general to examine these conditions in more depth, to explore the root causes of the challenges that this group faces, and to empower Autistic individuals. In medicine, autism is problematically misdefined as incurable and not enough is being done in the above-mentioned directions.
This is where BeMe comes along.
BeMe is the first AI-driven platform
designed to empower Autistic individuals, their families, and their care teams. Through harnessing the power of technology and holistic data collection, BeMe elicits actionable, needs-based insights that improve the lives of Autistic individuals, and ultimately, society at large.
At least 1 in 54 children in the US are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Conditions
This means that in the US alone, there are over 1,300,000 Autistic children. In many states where studies are more recent and detailed, the number is closer to 1 in 30 (1 in 32 in California). What’s more, Autistic individuals experience a number of frequently undiagnosed co-occurring conditions, which, for example, can include significant gastrointestinal-related conditions, sleep disorders, anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorders, and Apraxia. In regard to non-speaking Autistics, it also doesn’t help that overwhelmingly people confuse the lack of oral communication with lack of intelligence or competence (it is established that the average IQ in Autistic populations is at least the same as the average IQ of neurotypical populations). It is no surprise then, that in Western societies, the neurodiverse population is the most underrepresented and underserved, with the highest unemployment rate as adults.
If co-occurring conditions and environmental factors are not identified, understood, and managed, and interventions or support in each are not provided, there is little chance of a world with zero exclusion.
Autism is currently diagnosed using an inadequate set of strictly behavioural criteria,
which leaves a large uncertainty as to what symptoms and characteristics are actually typical for Autistic children. In fact, the spectrum is so wide that – like fingerprints – no two children are alike. Each Autistic individual has a unique set of challenges and strengths, which makes it difficult to produce a one-size-fits-all treatment program. Many Autistic children may struggle with communication, which makes the detection of, for example, trigger events even more difficult, but also the understanding and true appreciation of their many unique skills and gifts.
Bringing medical, environmental, and behavioral insights together
There is an overwhelming web of information (and misinformation) and often the lack of truly individual and needs-based options for Autistic children. Parents often feel lost when it comes to knowing where to invest their time and resources. This is why it is important for them to know and understand their children holistically: only in this way parents can make objective decisions to best support them, so that they may thrive and be themselves. By leveraging AI, BeMe can elicit actionable insights on both an individual and aggregate population level.
When armed with key information, parents can move faster and more effectively in the journey of supporting their children, and make sure that the child’s team of professionals, therapists, and caregivers are aligned. They can connect the dots. They need to know as much as they can across medical, behavioural, and environmental factors at play.
In order to achieve this, families need:
- A Simple way – that fits into the daily flow without disruption
- A Holistic way – looking at all factors contributing on an ongoing basis
- A Personalized way – that is an impactful, hyper-individualized approach for each Autistic individual.
This approach transcends the traditional standard of care for neurodiverse populations by offering unique and personalized insights while maintaining extraordinary levels of safety, security, and privacy.
The BeMe.ai team
is intentionally diverse and fully distributed. Co-Founders Sarah Glofcheskie, Chief Executive Officer and Alex Melamed, Chief Operations Officer, met in business school in Berlin in 2014. Residing in Canada and Bulgaria, they bring over 30 years of experience together across technology, life sciences, and business development.
As a neurodiverse team, BeMe is changing who asks the pertinent questions about empowering Autistic individuals. Autistic representation on the team dramatically affects how BeMe conducts research, how questions are asked and translated into the product.