The web is a vast, mostly useless, wasteland with bits of information held in random silos scattered about. Cyfeon Solutions’ Answer Factory attempts to unite these locations in the spirit of increased productivity.
As I was told by founder Brandon Smith, its goal is to provide business users a solution that allows them to make better business decisions by pulling in data from multiple sources from across the web.
Smith was joined on the Disrupt NYC 2012 stage by Rod Taylor, EVP of sales at Cyfeon Solutions, to present Answer Factory for the first time. As they explained, Answer Factory acts as a single access point for the end user (most likely a business type) with access to big data and broad support for databases, .txt/.csv files, and popular APIs like Twitter and Google Docs — even weather data can be pulled in as need to help lay out travel plans. Answer Factory federates the data, models it, and then pushes it to the users, all in real time.
The idea is to give the business users a single access point for the various data and information sources needed for their job. Answer Factory is a Java-based software component that sits on top of the data source, which also allows for predictive answering. Say there’s a question concerning personnel. Currently, as Smith explained, a user would have to consult several sources — LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype and others — for the answer. This is where Answer Factory comes in — once the data sources have been added to the back-end, the user will have access to all the information.
It’s not a perfect solution yet. The interface isn’t the most consumer friendly — Smith and Taylor clearly state that this is an enterprise solution, targeting business professionals, but the UI could use some work nevertheless. Selling a database management tool is hard enough but selling a cumbersome database management tool is incomparably harder.
Q: What’s your elevator pitch?
A: We provide a way for companies to use all the data inside or outside the company at any time to help improve their decisions
Q: It sounds like answer quality is what you’re getting after. Do you have any metrics to prove that your answers are better?
A: I don’t have specific answers since just launching today, but I can talk about our skill set. A lot of our folks have enterprise app experience, and we couple that with strong data science ability, so we return some unique answers.
Q: Who are you targeting?
A: Business users, we’re not targeting technical side of the house. Think sales and operations teams.
Q: If a potential customer finds you on Google, what would their search query be?
A: What are solutions that allow me to make better decisions within my company, and specifically a way that takes advantage of internal and external data.
Q: How do you access the company’s private data? Do you copy it? Do you get on their servers?
A: We have about 20 out-of-the-box adapters that can plug into many different databases.
Read the original here: Cyfeon Solutions Launches Answer Factory, A Database Tool That Aims To Collate The Web
As a culture, we are getting ever-more accustomed to using social networks as our primary hubs for all information, and that trend is leading to the rise of yet more services constructed like social networks to improve accessibility: one of the latest in that line is DoctorsElite, a new site aimed at linking up patients, general physicians and specialists through a social network framework to make it easier for people to find specialists in certain fields when they need them.
Started by a group of physicians working with other medical advisors and technology experts, DoctorsElite is entering the market bootstrapped and with a database of some 500,000 doctors and centers for advanced treatment in the U.S. — and with some strong firsthand experience of why the founders think this service fills a gap in the market.
What DoctorsElite is trying to do differently is that it is focused on being first and foremost a directory for doctors in specific fields — with that half-million strong database a good start. The database can be searched by diagnosis, treatment and speciality and then, beyond that, subspeciality, and is free to use by patients and their families. Patients also have a secure area where they can store their own medical records to keep them in a centralized place — accessibile by themselves as well as their doctors.
DoctorsElite is also offering a secure section where doctors can communicate with each other to find specialty care for their patients and advice from other doctors — which can be done in open forums or through direct messaging. Doctors and patients have free access to their own profiles, with additional services coming with fees.
As with many startup ideas, DoctorsElite came out of a direct need that the founders themselves experienced firsthand. One of them, a Gulfport, Mississippi-based interventional cardiologist called Cyril V.K. Bethala, had been working in a hospital that was closed down during Hurricane Katrina — not before Bethala himself got stranded in the hospital for days during the peak of the Katrina crisis.
With patients and doctors fleeing the area, it became impossible to track medical histories for millions of patients and for those patients to connect with doctors. Bethala wanted to create a system that could bypass crises like this in the future — and go one better by improving communication in the medical industry, all of the time.
“Every area of the country experiences natural disasters or other events that make connecting doctors and patients a challenge,” he said in a statement. “And even under normal circumstances, it can be difficult for patients and doctors to locate the right specialty care, particularly for uncommon or rare diagnosis.”
All too true, but whether that will be enough to propel DoctorsElite forward as a company remains to be seen: It’s joining a space more crowded than an ER on a Friday night: other sites offering social networks for patients and doctors include Sermo, Doximity, CareZone and HealthTap – the latter picking up $11.5 million from Eric Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures and the Mayfield Fund, among others, last December. Then on the more general medical portal front, there are more established sites like WebMD.
Earlier this month, we covered Castlight’s whopping $100 million series D investment — one of the largest venture rounds raised by a healthcare IT startup to date. The reason? Castlight is on a mission to bring price transparency and comparison tools to healthcare through a B2B service that provides self-insured companies with the ability to let their employees compare quality and costs across a variety of medical procedures.
With the cost of healthcare skyrocketing and insurance premiums on the rise, there’s a serious need for price transparency in healthcare — and a growing movement to put consumers back in control of their health by reforming the system so that care providers display the prices they charge for appointments, treatments, and procedures.
Founded in 2009 by Scott Sangster and incubated in healthtech accelerator Rock Health’s inaugural batch, HealthInReach is tapping into this need by offering a transparent online marketplace for healthcare. The startup has essentially devised a consumer-focused (or B2B2C) complement to Castlight, whereby those who are uninsured or pay out-of-pocket for medical procedures can use its marketplace to search for and learn about doctors, dentists, based on experience, reputation and prices.
The providers on HealthInReach are specific to those offering dental, vision and elective care — a bit different than the focus of Castlight — but an equally sizable market. HealthInReach Founder Scott Sangster tells us that more than 130 million Americans are currently living without dental insurance and collectively pay billions of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses because the system doesn’t allow them to find out the price of procedures in advance or compare available, local care options.
As mentioned, reform is badly needed in this regard. Met with high out-of-pocket expenses or high deductibles, consumers want better ways to reduce costs without forgoing their essential healthcare needs. So HealthInReach has built a resource which provides consumers with a single destination to research costs of particular medical or dental procedures, take advantage of pre-negotiated group discount rates, and, after locating the best option, schedule their appointment online.
Because processing insurance paperwork is a pain in the ass for doctors, patients who pay out-of-pocket represent cost-savings. HealthInReach groups self-paying patients and allows doctors to pass savings to people who book appointments online. The resource gives doctors, dentists, and optometrists a searchable database by which they can be more easily discovered, share their necessary info and prices, and convert anonymous clickers into paying customers/patients. And therein one finds the startup’s business model. For every conversion, HealthInReach takes a cut.
On the flip side, for the consumer, HealthInReach makes it easier to find new dentists, optometrists and doctors who specialize in elective procedures — anything from botox to lasik — gives them price and quality comparison tools, discounted rates, as well as education, training, and patient reviews. To date, over 3 million people have used the service to look for doctors.
However, from the outset, HealthInReach intentionally limited its market to southern California (the startup is headquartered in LA), but it’s been looking to expand nationally and grow its database of doctors, optometrists and dentists. To do so, the company is today announcing that it has merged with PriceDoc, a startup which has been on a very similar mission — to build an online marketplace that connects healthcare providers with consumers looking for medical and dental procedures.
Founded in 2008, PriceDoc, like HealthInReach, provides consumers with comparative pricing tools on medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, allied health and elective procedures, as well as the ability to dig down into information on the practice and its doctors’ credentials.
Although the specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, the combined company will operate as HealthInReach, with Scott Sangster continuing as operating CEO. Together, the two companies now offer more than 1.6 million appointments every month and descriptions and prices for about 50K specific procedures. Just as before, users can book appointments, receive reminders, and lock-in discounts before they show up at the doctor’s office.
HealthInReach has developed a proprietary database and uses patented technology to compare dynamic pricing schemes that display prices not in the past (from historical data, like Castlight) but in the future. Although HealthInReach was already employing this tech, its reach was minimal, whereas PriceDoc had built a much deeper and more national database of practices. Now, the two can leverage the tech and the database to offer a more robust service.
The companies have integrated their services and officially launch the “new HealthInReach” today. Of PriceDoc’s three co-founders, CEO Bob Kurilko will be staying on as an advisor, President Patrick Bradley will be joining the board, and Chief Medical Officer Julian Henley will be returning to Yale, where he is a practicing MD. As of today, PriceDoc, as an independent entity, is officially kaput, and its web services will be shut down in the coming months.
Collectively, the two startups have raised over $6 million in venture funding. And, of course, it’s worth mentioning that, in the online medical appointment booking space, HealthInReach obviously faces serious competition from its largest player, ZocDoc, although it’s currently doing little in the way of price comparison/transparency, arguably a much larger problem than online booking. Though it depends, of course, whom you ask.
Good news, Mac users, the second Service Pack for Office for Mac 2011 is out, yet again. Microsoft pulled the original edition after it caused issues on some machines. The problems were mostly clustered in Outlook, and ‘Mac database.’
Microsoft put out a workaround for the effected users, and pulled the update. Happily, the Service Pack has been fixed, and is now back up for downloading. Here’s Microsoft on the new patch:
As of this morning, we posted a 14.2.1 update that fixes a number of issues, including the Outlook for Mac database issue, and you can read more about the update in this KB.
“This update is primarily preventative and targets those who have not yet installed SP2; however, whether you have or have not installed SP2, please run this update to bring your installation of Microsoft Office: Mac 2011 to the latest version.
Now, why should you care? Service Packs carry with them both security fixes, and performance enhancements. And if you haven’t noticed, security and Macs has been a topic of real discussion in recent months, as larger attacks have befallen Mac users. Increasing market share is leading to increased hacker attention; as Mac grows, so too does its attractiveness to nefarious types.
We’ve written about Path.to several times here at TNW, starting last August when the service launched as a competitor to LinkedIn, in that it provided a beautiful way to visualize one’s resume. However, the company made a pivot over the past few months, bringing to the front of its focus something that is on everyone’s mind: jobs.
The newly launched Path.to keeps much of its old power, including its endorsement system. However, the company is moving in a new, and potentially more lucrative, direction.
Hiring sucks, as does finding the right job. Recruiters are annoying, and sifting through endless applications submitted by people who aren’t the right fit is a waste of time. Even more, if someone looks right on paper, they might not be a cultural fit; a suit guy isn’t going to fit in next to the guy in gym shorts, socks, and no shoes.
Path.to recognizes those facts, and has come up with a solution. Users of the site input various pieces of information – more than just what they can do (you can import you experiences from LinkedIn, of course), but also answer a few questions (using sliders, natch) about how they like to work.
Then the Path.to algorithm (the company’s secret sauce) ‘algorates’ them with the jobs in its database:
Employers get the opposite of that. Instead of being fed jobs with a score based on how appropriate they are, they are given a list of candidates that are most suitable for their positions. Thus, both people looking for a new gig, and those who need to fill one, save time by having the right positions or candidates brought to them.
TNW’s view is that Path.to has taken the most powerful component of its old platform, and has built it out to its full potential. The company’s success or failure will come from the strength, or weakness of its algorithm; if it matches people and jobs well, then Path.to provides real, monetizable value. If, however, the algorithm doesn’t, Path.to will struggle. I can’t comment much on that as I’m not looking to hire, personally. It will be quite apparent, though, in the coming weeks.
Path.to is free for businesses for the next few months, but posting a job will eventually come with a fee. That’s standard. Path.to also announced $1.5 million in funding today.
The company is launching with a focus in the Bay Area (other locales coming soon). Some 100 companies are in its database now. That number will rise now that the company has launched the product, I presume.
Read more from the original source: Path.to relaunches to shake up how job candidates and employers find one another