July 21, 2020 • By Xanat Hernandez
New research papers and peer-reviewed studies around COVID-19 are published every day. In February, the first 100 studies began emerging from China, Italy and the United States. Now there are over 20,000 articles addressing COVID-19 globally. Physicians on the front lines of this disease may not have the time to keep up with the latest data and research. That’s where Kahun comes in.
Founded by Eitan Ron MBA ’94, Dr. Michael Tzuchman Katz and Tal Goldberg, Kahun is an Israel-based start-up that uses “knowledge graphs” to visualize relevant medical research. It’s designed to help physicians with differential diagnosis, the process of differentiating between two or more conditions which share similar signs or symptoms.
In April, Ron and his team began harnessing this technology to create the “COVID-19 risk stratification calculator.” The AI-powered tool uses patient data on the first day they are admitted to a hospital to help determine the likelihood they will require the ICU or a ventilator. Kahun’s algorithm updates the tool in real-time to reflect the latest findings about COVID-19.
“Physicians may not have time to read the latest articles and then apply them to their daily life,” said Ron. “We hope that access to this tool will help them in their on-going fight against COVID-19, so we can all be ready for the potential second wave of the virus.”
The Kahun team ran a pilot test in Hasharon Hospital, Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, which was converted to a COVID-19 dedicated facility in Israel. Kahun performed a retrospective test and found that with a sensitivity of over 90%, they were able to predict, upon admission, which patients would require intensive care.
“This is critical information for hospitals,” said Ron. “They need to know what resources are essential and which patients require additional monitoring.”
Ron emphasizes that Kahun does not create knowledge, it merely presents it to physicians in a way that is actionable and easy to understand: “We are mimicking the process that occurs naturally inside a physician’s head, but we have access to a larger database and more accurate memory.”
Every piece of data is linked to the original citation, showing the physician the source of the information.
“This is the opposite of a ‘black box’ approach,” explained Ron. “Everything is explainable, and we explicitly show the path of our reasoning and all correlations between data.”
Kahun is named after the 4,000-year-old Kahun Papyrus—the first medical document ever discovered. After the pandemic subsides, the company will continue making medical studies more accessible for physicians around the world using their algorithm and AI-powered tool.
Ron and Goldberg were also the founders of another successful Israeli internet startup which they sold to LivePerson (NASDAQ:LPSN), an NY leading business messaging player.
Ron attended the Full-Time MBA Program at The UCI Paul Merage School of Business in the full-time program after working as a computer engineer in Israel. He moved to Irvine to learn the ins and outs of business: management, finance and marketing. “The Merage School jumpstarted my 20-year journey as an entrepreneur,” he said. “I can trace my first exposure to entrepreneurship to courses and internships I completed at the Merage School.”