After Winning the HealthTech Award: "Suddenly, doors opened for us!"

One might expect that a super smart and critically important, even life-saving, healthcare innovation would be eagerly embraced. However, the reality isn’t quite so straightforward. Getting people to listen is not always easy.
“The prize at Vitalis changed everything. It gave us credibility, and potential customers started flocking to us,” shares Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar, CEO of Mabel AI, recipient of the HealthTech Award 2023.


Understanding that language barriers can be a matter of life and death is straightforward. If one cannot articulate what’s wrong or respond to a doctor’s inquiries in a critical situation, the risk of negative outcomes is evident.
“Every second counts. That’s why being able to communicate with the patient is so vital,” says Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar, who is also a physician. She recognized the necessity 15 years ago while working in an emergency department. The concept was born. After many years, it led to the creation of the mobile AI-based tool, Mabel AI, developed by her and her husband Shahid, a researcher with a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence.


Prioritizing Confidentiality
In simple terms, Mabel AI operates as an app on a standard mobile phone or computer. It recognizes speech in various languages and performs real-time translations of the spoken words. In this way, it facilitates secure communication between patients and healthcare personnel – without needing a human interpreter.
“We prioritized patient confidentiality. All communication is localized, with no data breaches. The tool can also be integrated with a hospital’s systems, allowing the dialogue or an AI-supported summary to be sent directly to the patient’s record.”


No Longer Chasing the Target Audience
Karolina and Shahid spent two years trying to engage healthcare providers with their innovation. Yet, they encountered the lengthy decision-making processes typical in healthcare, making it challenging to reach their audience. The HealthTech Award served as a catalyst.
“The award greatly enhanced our credibility,” Karolina believes.
“Immediately after the award ceremony at Vitalis, many came forward wanting to engage with us. This was a new experience for us: our target audience sought us out, instead of us having to pursue them. It was a very positive development and motivated us to continue.”


As Effective as a Human Interpreter
Currently, several collaborations involving Mabel AI are underway, with more in the planning stages.
“We are in the initial phases of pilot projects in medical departments, and we’re also engaging with home care and home healthcare services,” Karolina explains.
This fall, the Mabel AI solution was validated in Norway, in collaboration with the Norwegian Smart Care Lab and the University Hospital of Stavanger.
“This was a significant milestone for us. A crossover study compared Mabel AI with a human medical interpreter in simulated medical scenarios. The study showed that doctors could diagnose with Mabel AI with the same reliability as with a human interpreter.”


Coming to Market Soon
Karolina anticipates having a market-ready product this spring.
“We have a functioning product that is nearly ready for launch.”
Recently, Mabel AI has been refined with an additional feature, reverse translation.
“With a simple click, you can see how your words have been translated back, verifying the accuracy of the information conveyed. This reduces the risk of misunderstandings even further.”


Valuable Attention
Since the award ceremony at Vitalis, Mabel AI has garnered media attention, including a segment on Norwegian radio. It has also secured another accolade: the Venture Cup entrepreneurship competition, in the “Impact Maker” category.
Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar is thankful for the HealthTech Award win:
“Most importantly, it has led to many valuable contacts. Before, we had to introduce ourselves and explain our product, which made it difficult to capture attention.
Now, the response is completely different: ‘You’re the ones who won the HealthTech Award, tell me more!’ People are reaching out to us, rather than the other way around, which is incredibly significant.”