AI Innovator Spotlight: Rology

An interview with Moaaz Hossam, Chief Business Officer at Rology.


Tell us about your innovation. What is the problem? What solution is Rology offering? What populations are you serving? 

At Rology, we are addressing the shortage and misutilisation of radiologists. Radiologists are the doctors in charge of the interpretation of radiology images and scans and, simply put, there are not enough of them. Ideally, there should be one radiologist for every 10,000 citizens and currently, no country in Africa or the Middle East is hitting that benchmark. For example, if you look at Egypt, which was our first market, there is one radiologist for every 33,000 Egyptians. In Kenya, there is only one radiologist for every 550,000 citizens; in Nigeria, it's about one per 600,000; and in Ethiopia it’s only one radiologist per one million. You can see that the numbers of radiologists are just not keeping up with the demand. In fact, there is an estimate that requests for the services of radiologists are growing globally by about 53% year over year, while the growth in the radiology workforce is only 3%. So there is a huge gap and it's actually widening every year. 

In response to this challenge, Rology has created an AI-assisted teleradiology platform that matches radiology images and scans coming from hospitals with the optimal radiologists, based on their subspeciality and availability. Essentially, we are optimising on the highest quality of reporting at the fastest turnaround time, building a Pan-African network that can match the scans with radiologists regardless of their country. Right now, we have about 150 radiologists working on our platform and they are serving 180 hospitals. On any given day, we have radiologists from Egypt providing support to a hospital in Kenya, a radiologist in Kenya providing services to hospitals in Ghana, and so on. It’s a way for us to try to utilise all available radiologists to solve the problem by matching the supply to the demand in a more efficient way. 

As part of this, we are building our own AI tools that can aid the radiologists, increasing their productivity so they can work on more cases without sacrificing any quality. Our vision for AI is that radiologists who use AI will replace radiologists who don't use AI. We do not believe that AI will fully be able to replace radiologists. 

Our focus is on the Middle East and Africa. Right now we work in about five countries with regional offices in Egypt, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. So far, we have managed to help around 650,000 patients.

What is a recent example of progress? What are you currently celebrating? 

One of our most recent successes is the fact that we supported our highest number of patients yet in Kenya, after being here for less than 18 months. 

In addition to that, we have reached an incredibly significant milestone of reaching FDA 510(k) clearance! This confirms that we are offering something that is valuable, effective, and safe, and opens up the possibility of many more opportunities. For more information on this, you can read our press release and/or watch the where we announced this achievement and explained its importance.

What are the primary challenges you’re currently facing? 

The main challenge we’re facing right now at Rology is a good problem to have. As we scale across different countries, the team is growing. Right now, we have almost 60 employees across the company, located in our offices in several different countries. We are trying to figure out how to bring some structure into this without losing the spirit and soul of being a startup. We want to be able to make decisions quickly and be flexible and agile, while also creating good structures for the business. We’re now trying to manage many people across different offices, making sure that everyone is communicating without turning it into a stiff corporate culture. 

Over the course of developing your innovation at Rology, what is something you have learned that stands out and that might help other innovators?

Don’t wait too long until your product is perfect, because that’s never going to happen. Try to get it into the market and get feedback from potential customers as soon as you can. Even if you think that it's too early, that your product is embarrassing, just do it because your audience will have very valuable feedback. You might be surprised that you actually have a good product or at least you would learn quickly if you’re moving in the wrong direction. Don't get lost in writing code and building products for too long because you can’t lose sight of the fact that you have to build what people want at the end of the day. Talk to your potential client early on and get into the market as soon as you can and let the market teach you where you need to go and what you need to change. 

Rology is in Villgro Africa's Artificial Intelligence for Health portfolio. Find more information on this cohort and the programme itself here.