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EF: What do you anticipate most for this year, and what are your top priorities? 

KM: The global attention we have received in the last few months excites us the most. We had always considered ourselves a local company serving only a local need. Still, after attending the UN in New York last year and traveling to the G20 in India, we realized that the problem we are solving and the market we are focused on is truly a global one. As a result, many international partners have expressed interest in working with us. In the last few months, this has greatly broadened my geographic perspectives. 

We are thrilled to be exploring possible collaborations. This indicates that we were making a significant impact at ground level, where it is most needed, and it has been noticed at higher levels. We were honored to see the government's interest in the product and its impact. Our partnership with AstraZeneca helps us collaborate with the government to create policies, and we have received great responses from local doctors who specialize in the alternative aspects of breast cancer therapy about the product. Those who use it also exhibit our enthusiasm and passion. 

EF: Could you elaborate on the breast AI solutions and how this important innovation makes you stand out and attract so much attention? 

KM: The market is filled with a lot of AI. Ours is distinct because we are opening it up to people who have never had access to it. Because it is 65% more affordable than what is already on the market, it is a huge game changer, allowing access to rural locations that have never had professionals on site. We provide it to people who most need it at a price they can afford. Our nation's high incidence and death rates are caused by a lack of infrastructure and education, two requirements that our business addresses. 

To meet the needs of infrastructure and education, we are spreading the product and delivering education through the community, healthcare workers, and regions. We joined Unjani Clinics as one of our partners, and we now have a newfound respect for registered nurses and how they manage a clinic. I've helped them with the breast AI system in their clinics, and the outcomes have been excellent. Within a week of adopting our approach, patients with breast cancer who had been on a waiting list for three years saw a surgeon for the first time. It has significantly changed things. 

EF: Which relationships and countries are you targeting to stimulate growth in MedSol? 

KM: The plan is to spread over more of Africa, including Kenya, Nigeria, and Egypt, before moving on to Latvia, Eastern Europe, Colombia, and India. We traveled to Switzerland for a global roadshow for startups held in Switzerland. We were invited since we were among the top ten South African startups, and as a result, we will meet with the offices responsible for CE marking and patents to gain further insight into that market. 

EF: It is important to work with the right people. How do you select and manage these partnerships? 

KM: Most of the partners we have spoken with have experience working with local governments and have completed past pilot projects. For instance, groups in the international regions we are working on partnering with, specialize in health technology for emerging markets, so they are knowledgeable in this area. Additionally, other regional distributors are collaborating with our global partners on a project, and there is a possibility we will begin distributing shipping in a place where it hasn't been done before. Even the local organizations we have associated with were strategically identified, as most clinics, hospitals, and specialists are on the boards that deal with changes to South Africa's breast cancer policies. Adoption from those who push for changes in AI applications is what you want.  

EF:  As the CEO of a technology-driven business, how are you educating stakeholders on the value your offering brings? 

KM: We partnered with a local NGO specializing in patient navigation and education. Our country has eleven official languages, and we have education resources courses in each. We also train community members to volunteer to educate their peers in their cultural contexts about topics like breast cancer awareness and how to reduce fear, as the disease is heavily stigmatized in our country. As a result, implementing amazing technology at the hospital is ineffective if people are afraid to visit the clinic or have no idea when to. Education holds equal significance. 

Many individuals who receive a late-stage diagnosis simply were unaware that they had cancer. They are unfamiliar with that area of medicine, nor do they have easy access to Google the way we do, where you can search for your symptoms. It involves both having patient navigators on hand and being able to offer that resource. Every member of the Breast Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization we collaborate with, has survived breast cancer. They typically visit with patients on our AI screening days to answer questions and provide an overview of their journey.  

Additionally, we ensure that when a patient receives a diagnosis, someone walks them through the process and guides them to the hospital, so they know where to go. In certain cases, we even arrange for transportation because some patients cannot afford it, so they choose not to go to the hospital, which causes their cancer to worsen. Thus, we ensure that those transportation networks exist, and they can travel there to attend their follow-up appointments. The A.Catalyst Network aims to improve the entire patient referral process and support changes in breast cancer policy locally and globally to demonstrate that this approach has proven effective, yields measurable results, and encourages modifications in patient care delivery to increase accessibility. 

EF:  How can we raise breast cancer awareness and get African governments to prioritize this issue? 

KM: In our case, it involves partnering with organizations like AstraZeneca, which maintains a government policy network in each of its global hubs. Working with them to help spread awareness is beneficial. Many of the events we've been to have included important participants, including the Deputy Minister of Health, the Minister of Science and Technology and the Minister of Digital Technology and Communications. For instance, when we attended the G20 or UN in New York, we were given a platform that targeted the people who needed to hear it and spread awareness. Raising awareness is aided by the manner and platforms in which we present what we do. The easiest approach to increased understanding is if you or someone you know has been impacted by breast cancer. Regardless of the illness, people who have experienced it firsthand typically become the most ardent supporters or advocates overnight because they want to help others avoid suffering the same fate as they did. 

EF: How does MedSol AI develop a plan for sustainable growth?  

KM: It comes down to finding like-minded individuals who share our interests and passions. We intend to roll out at all 4000 clinics and hospitals in South Africa, and we need to have a strong team. 

I have learned that hiring someone is about finding someone willing to learn and genuinely caring about the purpose or strategy you are implementing to succeed. Finding people with a desire and an interest in AI or medical imaging does not require a specific person. It is finding people with a drive and a passion similar to ours.  

For instance, even though my profession is radiography, I taught myself the basic development of algorithms because of my experience with the physics and technology of systems. Although I do not have formal training in artificial intelligence or deep learning, those skills enabled me to speak more clearly when addressing technical specifications. Individuals acquire more transferable abilities than real book skills. A person with street smarts is a great candidate to work for a company. The greatest set of creative minds to advance with are those who are open-minded and eager to learn. 

EF: What achievements have you been most proud of in building MedSol AI solutions to such a level of international recognition?  

KM:  The G20 recognition we earned as a leading female in health tech and the realization that there aren't many South African entrepreneurs operating on that international scale were the two things that brought us the most pride in the previous year. At the G20, there is a corridor you can walk down where each country has a picture with the number of startups and unicorns; while the other countries have thousands upon thousands of startups and unicorns, South Africa has very few of both. Suddenly, I realized how much more we should push that. All you need is that drive, fellow South African startups. My best advice is that if things get very rough and challenging, it usually indicates you are on the right track and pushing yourself in a way you never thought possible. This is usually a positive move in the right direction. 

In terms of AI in the future, I can't wait for us to take the technology globally and see how our invention may benefit other nations—each with its special context—while also learning from different countries. I am excited that by the following year, we will be able to report that we have offices in India, Kenya, Colombia, and Latvia and have assisted thousands of women. Not only that, but over an extended period, we have demonstrated that their life expectancy has improved—not just directly but also holistically, as evidenced by the fact that after five years, they have not experienced high mortality rates. 

EF: Do you have any final message you would like to share? 

KM: I used to feel I never fit in any “cookie cutter” job description and never understood why that was, but now I've discovered my passion. Once you find your love, you never have the feeling of work being work. I wish everyone else may discover their passion and purpose. 

June 2024
South Africa