Veronica Berry knew something wasn’t quite right. She was experiencing symptoms that several doctors had labeled as bad menstrual cramps, but Berry, whose job in pharmaceutical and medical sales required her to observe many doctor’s visits, was convinced there was something more going on.
After multiple consultations and waiting eight weeks to get her medical records sent from another state, she finally received the correct diagnosis: stage 2 ovarian cancer.
“I always saw, when observing doctor’s visits, so many patients always left that office with questions. And every time I left the office, I had questions too. I always felt like there was something else to it,” she tells Hypepotamus.
Fortunately, Berry’s self-advocacy caused her to be diagnosed in time, and she was successfully treated. But she says that many patients, especially women, aren’t as fortunate.
In one year, 12 million Americans will be misdiagnosed. Of those, 250,000 of those misdiagnoses lead to death.
Women are 50 percent more likely than men to be misdiagnosed as well. Berry says that’s because, too often, doctors dismiss women’s symptoms as “no big deal.”
“Because there are so many symptoms that are common to us, like bloating, cramping, pelvic pain, that can mean something much more serious,” she explains, “they [doctors] diagnose based on what symptoms men have.”
“That’s just not how women’s symptoms present themselves.”
After she recovered, Berry founded Atlanta-based TruDiary, a blockchain-based interactive personal health record, in an effort to help reduce misdiagnoses for women at large.
The TruDiary app, available for free on iOS, asks a user to create a profile by inputting their family health history, any past medical data, prescriptions, allergies, and other information. It can store all medical records from past doctors visits and medical procedures, all on a HIPAA-compliant, secure private blockchain.
“When you document, you’re aware. When you don’t document, you’re not. And when you have a tool where you can show your doctor that you really want to be a part of your health diagnosis, doctors are more willing to do additional tests to find things out,” Berry says.
The app allows users to document any symptoms they’re experiencing at
any given time, even track what food they’re eating. TruDiary users can also connect with others on the platform to get advice, seek recommendations, or compare symptoms and conditions, a feature Berry says the hundreds of women she spoke to during her customer discovery period were particularly excited about.
“Women are more apt to share their experiences with other women if they have gone through the same things. Instead of going on the Internet and finding questionable answers, they can tap into other women who had been through the same thing,” she says.
TruDiary automatically connects to the physician or hospital’s electronic medical record system and inputs the patient’s “storyboard” of medical history. Providers and health systems pay for access to TruDiary on a per-patient basis, at no cost to the individual patients.
Because the platform is built on the blockchain, the patient is notified every time a doctor or other provider accesses their record.
“So I can control how my information is used and when it’s used,” says Berry. “We’re trying to give the patient ownership and control of their health.
The system reduces the amount of time providers have to spend asking for information and relevant symptoms before providing a diagnosis and treatment plan. And ultimately, Berry believes it will also reduce misdiagnoses.
After releasing the first version of the app and completing a 100-user beta, Berry has decided to focus initially on the issue of high-risk pregnancies. She says that in many rural counties, patients don’t have many chances to see an obstetrician in person and may rely on telemedicine or too few checkups.
Their first paid pilot will kick off May 1 with an OB-GYN practice in rural Georgia. That six-month pilot will provide 1500 patients with TruDiary and will bring in $100,000 for the startup.
Another five OB-GYN offices and a small hospital are in the pipeline, representing $1 million in revenue. All will kick off within the next 3-6 months, says Berry.
She hopes that the same period of time will also bring the close of a $500,000 seed round to complete validation of these pilots, hire additional team members, and complete the second version of the app. Previously, TruDiary was financed by a $100,000 investment from the Conscious Venture Lab accelerator program.
Berry is also making the pitch competition rounds, taking home $10,000 from the Black Women Talk Tech conference last week and another $5,000 at MVMT’s Pitch Black at SXSW this past weekend.